How long does it take for SI joint pain to heal?

If you have sacroiliac (SI) joint pain, you might be wondering how long your discomfort will last and whether it will ever completely go away. Depending on its underlying cause, SI joint pain can range from mild to severe. Acute cases usually strike suddenly and resolve within several days or weeks, while chronic cases can progress gradually and linger for several months. The pain may come and go or remain constant. Either way, it will likely worsen with certain activities. After determining the cause of your discomfort, your physician can explain what to expect with regard to your prognosis.

How to live comfortably with SI joint pain

Although there is no cure for SI joint pain, many people find that they are able to effectively manage their discomfort. The first step is activity modification. For instance, it is essential to minimize (or, if possible, to completely avoid) any bodily positions and movements that worsen the pain. Next, a physician can recommend an appropriate treatment plan based on your unique diagnosis. For instance, you may benefit from:

  • Getting adequate rest. This does not mean extended bed rest, which can cause your SI joint to stiffen and actually do more harm than good. Rather, it means getting enough sleep (at least seven to eight hours every night) and taking breaks from activity to rest briefly throughout the day, both of which can help your body recover.
  • Taking medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, can provide relief from mild-to-moderate pain. Additionally, your physician may prescribe a muscle relaxant or narcotic pain reliever to help you get through painful flare-ups.
  • Applying ice or heat. Place an ice pack on your lower back or pelvic area to reduce painful inflammation, or lie on a heating pad to reduce your pain by relieving tension and spasms in the muscles surrounding your SI joint.
  • Wearing a sacral belt. Your physician might recommend a pelvic brace, which is a type of belt that can be worn to support and stabilize your SI joint.

Can surgery help SI joint pain?

A surgical procedure known as sacroiliac joint fusion may be recommended if nonsurgical treatment does not provide sufficient relief within several weeks or months. In most cases, surgery is not considered until all conservative options have been exhausted.

If you have questions about surgery for SI joint pain, contact the spine specialists at Laser Spine Institute. We can provide a free MRI review* to help you determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient surgery.