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 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. One particular incident was during a bend at “Gentle Yoga.” I stood up and my knees buckled from the pain. I had to limp out of class. I was in agony. For days it hurt just to roll over in bed!
Then, the Australian physical therapist I was seeing moved out of town and his practice was taken over by a large group of “specialists” (7 facilities in Michigan) with nice TV ads, but they didn’t do anything in the way of treatments. They only prescribed exercises. They were good exercises, but I was still in pain.
Now I was at a loss as to what to do. The new PTs 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, which is 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 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.
Then the husband and I recently drove to 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).
A new Physical Therapist
But then I ended up in major pain again.
This time I had raked leaves, and a few days later, took another two day car trip. Oh, I was really hurting. I decided to do some research to find a better physical therapist group. When I found who might be a good fit, I called my doctor to ask if he’d heard of Neil King Physical Therapy. Yes! He said he often recommends them.
My first appointment was an hour and a half of questions and physical examination. It’s really important to know which way the sacrum is out of alignment. This therapist was able to pinpoint the problem areas. She outlined a plan, showed me how to do a few exercises, then she did a manual treatment to shift the sacrum into a neutral position. I left feeling more comfortable than when I walked in.
I’ll be seeing three physical therapists three times a week for treatment and exercises. After one week, I’m definitely feeling a difference. They are showing me how to move my body in a way to keep my sacrum in line. Today “Amanda” told me that often our stronger muscles, which have been overcompensating, can pull the sacrum back out of alignment. The exercises I have do seem simple, but they are specific to my issue, and work the muscles I need most (mostly core and quad).
They also told me to continue the massage therapy as well as my regular workout routine at the gym, which makes me happy. I’m so glad to be treated by people who know what they’re doing.
If you have sacral torsion and you can’t tell if the treatment is working, it may not be. There are a lot of reasons why you might not be getting better. Maybe your muscles aren’t strong enough–no amount of chiropractic adjustments or massages 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 and masseuse know what they’re doing, you can tell. If you are still in pain, maybe you need to make a change. The combination of PT and massage seems to be making a real difference for me.
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