As you may know, one of the treatments people often consider for SI joint dysfunction is prolotherapy.
Prolotherapy is a relatively new, and still somewhat experimental, treatment to try to help ligaments heal. It can be used on any injured joint, not just the SI joints. Basically, a physician injects a solution that temporarily “irritates” the ligament, which then provokes the body’s healing response. (For more, you can check out this post).
Personally, there are a few reasons why I never tried prolotherapy to heal my SI joint ligaments.
One of those reasons is that the first doctor I consulted about it, Dr. Borg-Stein, did not believe I was a good candidate for it, due to the extremely hypermobile nature of my joints. After I explained to her that, even if I came in for the appointment with my joints aligned, I couldn’t guarantee how long they’d stay aligned– even if it was just for the car ride home– she said the risk was too great that my ligaments would heal with my joint in the wrong position, making my issue even worse. So that is why I didn’t pursue injections with her.
However, after I wrote about my experience, one of my readers, Julie, asked a different prolotherapy doctor the same question.
This doctor, Dr. Jon Trister in Worcester, MA, had a different opinion on prolotherapy, and told Julie that the risk of the joints healing in the “wrong” position wasn’t something he was concerned about. In his opinion, anything that made the ligaments “tighten” up would automatically help hold the joint in the proper alignment.
So she decided to go ahead with prolotherapy injections, beginning last December.
October 2018: I just checked in with Julie and, it turns out, she’s actually doing a lot better!
She followed up her prolotherapy treatments with lots of core strengthening, in the form of barre and pilates classes.
She says she also found a chiropractor who identified the “root cause” of her SI joint dysfunction as her L5 vertebrae pushing against her S1 (the top of the sacrum) and “knocking” her out of alignment. This chiropractor had her do cobra (yoga-like) stretches every day to help with this particular issue.
She also found what she described as a “natural pelvis reset” on Youtube that also gave her some relief.
She says she can’t know how much each of these individual things helped her, but isn’t sure if she could have done it without either the prolotherapy or seeing this new chiropractor.
However, this is definitely some interesting food for thought either way. It appears her prolotherapy doctor was correct, when he stated that he wasn’t worried about her ligaments healing in an inappropriate alignment.
So…. there you have it! Many of you have reached out to me, wondering how Julie is doing, so now you know!
As a side note, I do want to remind you all that, in general, I don’t really recommend chiropractic adjustments for the SI joint.
I went to a chiropractor several times a week for years, and later discovered (by accident!) that the adjustments were making my joints less stable, even though they were technically putting things into the proper alignment.
So I stopped getting adjustments, using only the Muscle Energy Technique on myself, and found that’s when I finally started to get better.
As if that wasn’t enough, I sometimes still went to a chiropractor for other forms of back pain, up until a freaky experience last May that landed me in an emergency room with temporary symptoms of nerve damage, following a chiropractic adjustment. Thankfully, it all went away after about a week, but that experience (combined with the number of chiropractic injuries the ER staff warned me about) scared me off of adjustments forever.
I do think there *can* be a time and a place for very gentle joint mobilizations, however I personally believe it’s best left to a manually-trained physical therapist, rather than a chiropractor.
There are, however, exceptions to the rule, and it sounds as though Julie found someone very smart and gifted in this chiropractor. Even she was surprised, as she believes the chiropractors she’d previously had, similar to mine, exacerbated her injury, rather than healing it.
Julie’s experience is a good reminder for all of us:
Sometimes, healing the SI joint really comes down to a process of trial and error. What works for one person may not work for another. And when you find the right combination of things that work for you, it may happen all at once. Looking back, you may not really able to pinpoint how much of your healing came from one thing, or another.
But the point is that sometimes, even if it seems like you’ve already tried everything, you can still stumble upon one more new thing (like me, when I realized I needed to stop going to the chiropractor).
Or, like Julie, you can read about one person’s experience on a blog… speak to your own doctor and get a different opinion… and then go for it, and find your doctor’s approach works out.
So… I hope Julie’s story gives all of you some hope to keep going, and keep searching. You never quite know what will be out there.
If you have questions about prolotherapy, I recommend you check out this Facebook group. I don’t know a ton about prolo myself, as I’ve never received it, but the people in this group are very supportive and can answer any questions you have.
Hope this helps!