My back pain began in 2011. I don’t know what made me think I could lift, or even drag, an oversize duffle bag packed with magazines and books with one arm, but that’s what I tried. Full stop. The bag didn’t even budge. Instead, it was me that gave way. Immediately I felt intense pain on my right side that ran from my middle back down my butt and into my leg. I’ve never been the same since.
My doctor diagnosed sacral torsion and had me see a physical therapist.
What is sacral torsion?
This disorder is more common in women than men. It means the sacro-iliac (SI) joints aren’t setting properly. The sacrum, a triangular bone, fits like the keystone of a bridge in between the two pelvic bones called the ilia. The SI joints are the tiny vertical joint spaces between the sacrum and the ilia. Unlike many joints of the body, they have very little motion, but their ability to move is vital to pelvic stability and positioning. For decades, physicians had a hard time believing a joint with such little motion could cause so much pain, yet they have learned the stability and mobility of the sacrum is the key to spinal integrity.
Physical therapy and backsliding
Physical therapy and specific exercises helped me, but then something would happen, like, a fall on the ice or a stupid attempt to move furniture, and I’d be hurting again. The most recent incident was during a bend at “Gentle Yoga.” I stood up and my knees buckled from the pain. I had to limp home. I was in agony. It hurt just to roll over in bed!
Shortly after, the wonderful Australian physical therapist I was seeing moved out of town and his practice was taken over by a PT group who didn’t do adjustments. All they did was prescribe exercises. They were good exercises, but I was still in pain.
Now I was at a loss as to what to do. The new physical therapists were definitely not helping. I’m not keen on chiropractors — one chiropractor told me he could cure ADHD by adjusting the bones in your skull. Another told me I needed to wear a lift in my shoe because one leg was shorter than the other. (This is actually a result of having sacral torsion, so I fail to see how putting a lift in my shoe would help.)
Back pain is more than a nuisance. It’s horrible to get up from a chair or out of the car to find yourself unable to stand straight.
A few years ago I was regularly seeing a massage therapist, Harv Irla, that I liked, so, a few months ago, I gave him a call. Harv could tell that the muscles deep in my lower back, hips and butt were tightly knotted. After a half-dozen sessions with him, I am doing so much better. Harv told me that while we can’t always change the physical anomaly that causes pain, we can address the underlying muscles and get them to relax.
To be sure, there is a measure of hype involving massage; for example, the unproven claim that it releases some kind of toxins. That said, the husband and I recently drove to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which meant two 8-hour days of driving. I was seriously worried I’d be in agony by the time we got there.
To my surprise, there was no pain when I stepped out of the car– No clenching of muscles. No walking hobbled over. No ibuprofen-popping (I had a large supply ready).
I’m glad I ditched the PT group and started massage therapy. What a difference.
If you have sacral torsion and you can’t tell if the treatment is working, it likely may not be. There are a lot of reasons why you might not get better, despite having the right adjustment. Maybe your muscles aren’t strong enough — no amount of adjustments will fix you if your muscles are weak or inflamed. Maybe you’re doing something in your daily life that’s destabilizing you on a regular basis, thus preventing you from healing.
In my experience, though, when the PT or masseuse knows what they’re doing, you can tell. Maybe you need a different therapist or massage therapy. I still do my exercises. I still have occasional pain, but massage is more than a treat or luxury for me. It’s made a real difference in the treatment of chronic pain from sacral torsion.
For more info see The Science behind Massage
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell her truth without shame.
2017 New Apple Book Awards Official Selection
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters