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SI Joint Pain During Pregnancy: Effective Relief Strategies

Apr 26, 2024 | 2 min read

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SI joint pain typically emerges in the second or third trimester due to pregnancy-induced changes. As the pelvis ligaments relax and the body's center of gravity shifts, stress on the SI joints increases.

When does SI joint pain start in pregnancy?

Understanding the timing of sacroiliac (SI) joint pain during pregnancy is crucial as it helps expectant mothers prepare and seek appropriate interventions early.

According to a study published by De Gruyter, of 1,789 pregnant women in their third trimester, 22.6% reported daily pelvic girdle pain, with 53.8% of those experiencing unilateral or bilateral SI joint pain. 

Knowing when this discomfort typically begins can guide both preventative strategies and treatment options.

General Timeline: SI joint pain can start at various times during pregnancy, but it is most commonly reported in the second and third trimesters. As the pregnancy progresses, the body undergoes significant changes that increase the likelihood of experiencing SI joint discomfort.

Factors Influencing Onset: Several factors can influence the onset of SI joint pain in pregnancy. Increased physical activity or a particularly sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate the onset. Furthermore, women who have experienced previous pregnancies might find that the pain starts earlier or is more intense due to the lasting effects of previous pelvic changes.

What causes SI joint pain during pregnancy?

Identifying the causes of SI joint pain is essential for managing discomfort during pregnancy. This knowledge helps tailor both preventive measures and treatments to the specific needs of pregnant women, enhancing their overall health and comfort.

Primary Causes: The primary cause of SI joint pain during pregnancy is related to physiological changes. As the body prepares for childbirth, hormones like relaxin increase, causing the ligaments in the pelvis to relax and stretch. This increases the mobility of the SI joint, which can lead to pain and instability.

Contributing Factors:

  • Weight Gain and Posture: The natural weight gain and altered posture during pregnancy shift the center of gravity, increasing stress on the pelvis and SI joints.
  • Previous Lower Back or Pelvic Pain: Any history of lower back or pelvic pain can heighten the risk of experiencing SI joint pain during pregnancy.
  • History of Trauma: A history of trauma to the lower back or pelvic areas also contributes to the likelihood of developing SI joint pain during pregnancy.

How to relieve SI joint pain in pregnancy?

Managing SI joint pain effectively is vital for maintaining comfort and mobility during pregnancy. Addressing this pain can significantly improve the quality of daily life for expectant mothers.

Physical Therapy and Exercises: 

Health professionals often recommend specific exercises and stretches designed to strengthen the pelvic area and reduce strain on the SI joint. These might include pelvic tilts, gentle stretching of the lower back and hips, and prenatal yoga that focuses on pelvic stability.

Lifestyle Adjustments: 

Making practical daily adjustments can also alleviate SI joint pain:

  • Proper Sitting Postures: Maintain an ergonomic seating position using supportive cushions.
  • Movement Modifications: Avoid activities that involve twisting the torso or standing on one leg.
  • Supportive Footwear: Wear shoes that provide good arch support to reduce strain on the pelvis.

How to sleep with SI joint pain in pregnancy?

Quality sleep is crucial for overall health, especially for pregnant women dealing with joint pain. Adequate rest can help manage pain levels and improve physical resilience.

Optimal Sleeping Positions: Certain sleeping positions can help minimize SI joint pain:

  • Side Sleeping with Support: Sleeping on the side with a pillow between the knees helps keep the hips aligned and reduces strain on the SI joint.
  • Fetal Position: Curling in a fetal position with a pillow under the stomach can also offer relief.

Bed Setup Tips: Proper bed setup is essential for reducing SI joint pain during sleep:

  • Mattress Firmness: Use a mattress that supports the body without sinking, maintaining a neutral spinal alignment.
  • Use of Specialized Maternity Pillows: Specialized maternity pillows, like a full-body pillow, can be placed to support the back, between the legs, and under the belly to provide additional stability and comfort.
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