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My experience of a twisted sacroiliac joint injury

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On holiday I injured myself quite badly.  Well, I’m convinced it was on holiday and the strain I was putting on my back.  The beach to the hotel was down several flights of stairs including rocky cliff type steep steps.  Not a problem for me, I’m fit and healthy, but my three year old usually stopped and begged to be carried.  So I gave in to save time and arguments.  I was also carrying an across body bag with 3-4 bottles of water, my book, spare clothes and sun creams in each day.  Not the lightest of bags! After a couple of days I could feel the strain as I was walking up this mountain of steps, but kept going thinking ‘just make it to the top!’  Now, I also gave my husband a quick piggy back across the beach at one point.  He had his normal shoes and socks on that day and we met a quite wide river running down to the sea!  Whether that played a part, or none of it did, or all of it, I don’t know.

By the Thursday my back started to really, really hurt.  At first I just kind of ignored it as I was due on.  I started Googling crippling back pain when on period, and I put it down to this.  I knew it felt worse than what I’d usually get – a few achey bones and pains – but just thought it was a bad month.  I’d normally have this for a day or two and it would go.  This got worse and worse.  I couldn’t even sleep as every time I moved it would be agony.  I couldn’t bend down anymore or get dressed.

I soon realised this was much worse and I must have put my back out somehow, but I still wasn’t convinced it was so terribly bad. Perhaps I’d strained a muscle and it will get better in a few days.

Roll on a week, to last Thursday, and I was in agony!

I had the worst night’s sleep and couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning.  I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t bend or twist.  I couldn’t get in or out of cars.  My muscles felt like they kept spasming up and I’d get locked into a position of pain and not be able to move for a minute or so.  The lower part of my back was so sore, particularly to the left and around that boney ball you can feel on either side of the spine at the base.  It was time to do something about it.  I realised this injury was perhaps not going to get better by itself.  I’d even tried to go for a swim as I couldn’t go for my usual run – I managed four laps and had to give up as it hurt with the movement.

My experience of a twisted sacroiliac joint injury

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The chiropractor

Don’t let this put you off seeing one as it’s just my experience, but a visit to the chiropractor didn’t go well.  I’ve never had an injury or back problems before so I didn’t know where to go.  I thought it might be a muscular issue, so Googled lower back pain treatment Gloucester to find the service I needed.  The first result was a chiropractor and sports massage clinic where they described my exact pain on their website.  Perfect I thought, they must be who I need to see.  I couldn’t get hold of them so I looked for more nearby chiropractors and called a couple more.  I told them what I thought I’d done – strained my back on holiday by going up and down hundreds of steep steps everyday carrying a heavy bag and heavy wriggly three year old – and waited for a response.

One got back to me and could see me that same day.  Success, I thought.  He also said it sounds like an injury they see all the time and he was sure he could help me.

I don’t understand chiropractics and I won’t pretend I do.  I’ve never had a back issue before.  But I do know I’m usually fit and healthy, I eat very well, don’t drink alcohol and exercise 3-5 times per week.  I do swimming, running, dance and yoga.  I’m pretty flexible and in good shape.  I also know my body and I never suffer with pain and this to me was a random injury caused by what I did on holiday. 

Perhaps I’m wrong, but the chiropractor I saw did not seem to focus on the injury.  He looked at my spine and said it’s straight at the bottom whereas it should be curved so he’s surprised I’ve not suffered with pain before.  My muscles were tightening to support this straightened spine and that was the pain I was feeling.

I’d stated on a form that I’d never had any injuries before and he seemed to dismiss this.  He said as he straightened the spine over 12 sessions, then any old injuries I’d had will resurface.  He commented something along the lines of ‘so any injuries you haven’t told me about on this form will hurt again’.  So this put me off as he assumed I was lying on the form?!  Why would I lie and did he not believe someone hasn’t had any significant injuries?  I’ve twisted the odd ankle in my life and cut my toe once and had butterfly stitches, but I’ve never sprained or broken anything before.

I was more bothered by this random injury and he seemed more focused on my spine.  He also made me do a SIT test to see which way my body fell to.  With this INJURY it slanted to the left and he seemed to focus on this as if this was where my body always slanted to.  I actually carry my kids on the right and my masseuse guessed this before as she said she can tell as my body slants to the right.  Arg.  I just didn’t feel like this chiropractor was listening to me or believing me that this was just a one off injury.  He wanted to fix my whole back, but based on how it was appearing now with an injury as if that was normal.

He also took some photos.  A photo of me stood straight breathing in, then out, then ‘slump!’ he’d say.  So I’d slump – drop my head and shoulders with some exaggeration.  Then he proceeded to show me the pics and how my posture was bad with my ‘dodgy’ back.  ‘But you told me to slump?’ I said, ‘that’s not how I’d normally stand’!  So he really meant to say something like ‘and relax’ or ‘stand normally’.

He then made me hug myself and lifted me up which was supposedly straightening my back. The first time was fine, the second time agony and the third slightly painful.  He said he was untwisting my spine or something.  He also talked to the ledge on the back of my head to ask it if my body was slanting to the left and he flicked my shoulder and back, perhaps my leg too, a couple of times…

He wanted £400 for 12 sessions over six weeks.  Plus this session was £70.  So I did wonder if there was an ulterior motive.  I got a bad vibe and didn’t think he was addressing the injury I had.

He also asked if my husband (who drove me in and shook his hand in the reception area) was my son!  It took me aback as I thought I had misheard, then realised what he had asked and replied no that’s my husband.  I wish I’d have said ‘NO!  That’s my older husband!’

So I don’t know, but I didn’t click with this guy, I thought he was missing the point with my back injury and I got a bad vibe.  It definitely wasn’t a good experience.

I think if I regularly had back pain, then yeah, I’d want it untwisting and sorting out for the long term, but this is the first back issue I’ve had and I’m sure it’s just an injury as there is a good explanation for how I caused it.

The osteopath

Not knowing what to make of it all, but knowing my mum and grandad have seen the same osteopath for years, I rang my mum and got her recommendation.  I managed to get a same day appointment as the receptionist could tell I was in pain.

I didn’t want to tell the osteopath what the chiropractor had said as I wanted to see what he made of it all.  I said what I’d done on holiday and explained the type of pain and what I was struggling to do, then he took a look at my back.

He made me lie on each side and worked on my back.  He made me hold my arms in a certain way and he looped through them and pulled which cracked something in my back.  After he told me I had twisted my sacroiliac joint on the left hand side.

This is exactly where the central pain is and makes sense.

I asked if he thought it was caused by what I was doing on holiday and he said yes.

A much better response and what I was expecting to hear.  I’m not sure if I preferred the osteopath just because he told me what I was expecting to hear, but this all made sense to me.  I’m usually well and never have back pain so to me it was an injury caused by the strain I was putting on my back on holiday.  Without me telling him I thought that ball joint was the cause, he told me it was just by feeling my back and hearing my symptoms.

He’s booked me in for one more appointment this week and given me some exercises to do at home.

On returning home I searched the internet for ‘twisted sacroiliac joint’ and ‘sacroiliac joint injury’ and it’s exactly what I have with regards to the pain and lack of flexibility.

Broken

It’s now been 12 days and I’m still in agony.  I did have some relief the day after seeing the osteopath.  He mentioned something about 11am the next day and it certainly did start easing off that day.  I felt relieved and thought it would go away, but it seizes up at night time, overnight and in the morning.  These are the worst times, it’s really agonising.  In the morning I struggle to get out of bed as every movement hurts.  I can’t stay in bed or sit in bed so have to get up as soon as I’m awake. 

I struggle to sleep as every movement must roll that joint whilst lying in bed so it’s super painful.  I can’t bend my back.  I’m so used to picking things up off the floor everyday with two young kids, but I can’t bend to do this.  I have to crouch right down to get things off the floor.  Each morning I always do a quick yoga stretch with arms to the ceiling, then lean back, then I lean over with legs straight and put my hands on the floor.  I tried to do this today – bad idea!  My back won’t bend, it just goes down straight and then stops and the furthest I can get my hands is to my knees!

Walking slowly is OK, it spasms or feels funny every now and then and makes me jerk.  I must look like I have a twitch!  Sneezing is the most painful!  I nearly jumped back into a stranger the other day as I leapt backwards from the sudden pain!  I’m trying my best not to sneeze and suddenly noticing how I sneeze almost daily without realising!

I tried to do child’s pose too (a yoga move) and can’t even manage that.  I’ve been getting a little worried this is going to stay as it’s already nearly been two weeks and seems no better.  Hopefully not and the osteopath can relieve my fears this Thursday.

Not a very positive post, but I wanted to share the difference between the two professionals I saw.  Two totally different opinions for the same injury, though I don’t think one thought it was an isolated injury! Hopefully you’re not reading this because you’ve twisted your sacroiliac joint and if you are, I feel for you!