Question: I have problems with my sacroiliac joint. It is worse when I am inactive…What can I do to get better sleep?

I have problems with my sacroiliac joint, it is worst when I am inactive. The pain shoots down both sides of my legs and hips and is very unbearable. I can tolerate it when I’m moving around during the day, but sleeping is more like a nightmare. I wake up several times each night because I can’t sleep because of the pain. What can I do to get some sleep? I would prefer not to just rely on heavy medications. Are there things I can do to get to sleep easier and to stay asleep?

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Doctor’s Response: Try a sacral belt at night.

The first thing I would try is to wear a sacral belt at night. Sacral belts are thin belts, usually in the range of about six inches tall, which fit around the pelvis (not the low back). Wearing such a belt can help to stabilize the pelvis while you sleep. It is possible that when you are up and around, your muscles are stabilizing the joint well enough that you get by; but, when you lie down and the muscles relax, then the joint needs more stabilization. I would caution you, first, to be sure that the pain is coming from the sacroiliac joint. The only way to prove this is with a diagnostic injection into the joint, or joints, under image by a trained professional using a Novocain solution and a steroid preparation. This gives both immediate relief, which is the diagnostic part of the test telling us that the pain is in the sacroiliac joint; and, the other is hoping that you can get some long-lasting relief from this.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.