Recovery FAQ’s :)

Hi everyone!

A bunch of people have been reaching out to me with questions recently, and it’s made me realize that maybe I should answer a few frequently asked questions about my story.

Here’s one I get often: How long did it take you to get better?

It was definitely not easy.  It took me 5 years to figure all of this out –which is why I work so hard to share it on my blog– so that, hopefully, it won’t take others as long!

Ultimately, it came down to striking the right balance, while also never giving up.

I had to seek out professionals, but also weigh their advice about what I knew to be true about my own body.  No one person was able to provide all of the answers for me– there were people who were incredibly helpful along the way, but ultimately, I am the one who had to put all the pieces together for myself.

This isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault (although there was certainly a wide range in skill level, among the people I encountered).  The thing is, the SI joint is so unique from person to person.  The things that hurt us, and the things that help us, can be very individual.  

So I had to weigh the advice given to me with people who had the training, as well as the experience treating others, to really give me some perspective and ideas.  But ultimately I had to be the decision maker, and realize if maybe something wasn’t turning out to be quite so helpful.

At my worst:

  • I couldn’t walk normally without limping, because one of my SI joints would be locked up
  • I felt like one leg was dramatically longer than the other
  • I couldn’t bend over and pick things up off the floor
  • I couldn’t go out in public easily– if I did, I had to walk very slowly and carefully, avoiding pronounced twisting movements
  • At social events, I had to spend most of my time sitting down
  • I was a student at the time (physical therapy prerequisites) but I know I could not have had a job that required standing, walking, or even sitting in a chair for a prolonged period of time (which rules out just about every job).
  • I had lower back pain, upper back pain, neck pain, and sometimes even jaw pain


  • I have days where I forget I ever had SI joint dysfunction
  • I can go out in public, keep up with my friends, go out dancing, and no one can tell I ever had an injury
  • I can clean, bend over and pick things up off the floor, and generally do what I need to do on a daily basis
  • I can go hiking for hours with no pain at all

My recovery philosophy

The thing to remember about SI joint dysfunction is that it involves a sprain to the ligaments that are meant to hold the SI joint in place:

This is similar to other injuries which involve sprains of the ligaments, such as ankle sprains.

Have you ever heard the saying that “once you sprain an ankle once, it will always be easier to sprain it again?”

The reality about ligaments is that once they’ve been sprained, this means they’ve been ever so slightly stretched beyond their normal range of motion.  And, unlike other tissues in the body, ligaments don’t receive a great blood supply.  They don’t heal as well as muscles or even bones do.  Ligaments never go back, completely, to the way they were.

That’s why it’s so important to keep your muscle strength up in your core, as well as the muscles that surround the joint.

Generally, the way I’m able to maintain my recovery and move around and exercise is by relying on the strength I’ve built up in my muscles. 

I’m grateful I was able to get to this point–  and excited to help other people move on with their lives, too!

For more on the exact steps I took, check out My Recovery.

There is also a bunch of into in my Strengthening section and…. eventually… I will be releasing an SI joint exercise e-book!

Stay tuned!

Published by Christy Collins

Hi, I'm Christy! I'm a health coach who helps people overcome SI joint dysfunction and chronic pain.

16 thoughts on “Recovery FAQ’s :)

  1. I just found your blog a few months ago and I’ve been finding it to be so helpful! I’ve been struggling with SI Joint Dysfunction for 17 years now and am finally at the point of doing prolotherapy (I’ve tried literally everything else). Thanks for sharing your experience so that those of us who are still suffering know that there is hope!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sorry to bother you but I have a question that my dr.’s are unable to answer . Sometimes when I’m standing I get a sharp pain usually on my left side where I have SIJD. It is above the si joint or near my hip. It gives out causing a sharp jolt with my back leaning back and my knee to bend. I hope I explained this correctly. The dr.’s suggested it could be a reflex to protect the joint or muscles. It has happened occasionally on my right side. If you have any insight I would greatly appreciate it. The surgeon has suggested fusion after exhausting all conservative methods. Thank you.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kathy, I agree with your doctor that your back and knee moving in response to pain in your SI joint sound like a protective reflex. It’s likely that your body knows something is off in the SI joint, and wants to protect it, so is causing all the muscles around it to fire.

      Have you had experience working with a good physical therapist, who has experience with the SI joint? I know you have exhausted all conservative methods, which includes PT, but in my experience there can be SUCH a wide range of skill-level, when it comes to the SI joint. Some PT’s think they know how to treat it… but they really don’t. It took me eight tries at physical therapy before I found the right person. So before you decide to have surgery, I’d make sure you ask yourself if you’ve really found a good PT to work with. You can read my posts about what it took me to find the right person here:

      Hope this helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Can I ask you one further question? You have had chondromalacia patella in the past–did that resolve as well? I have that and although it certainly improved from eight years ago (a running injury) it has still a fair amount of trouble. Before the SI injury, I was back to walking an hour (at least) every day–but I was still quite impaired compared to before 2011. Also it took years to sort out. It makes me somewhat worried about SI recovery.


        1. Hi S., yes that actually resolved much quicker for me, although I was lucky that, at the time, I was told I didn’t have any permanent damage (some people do, and it shows up on x-ray). I’ve since learned that, the way my body works, I have to keep my quadriceps muscles strong, and then I don’t have any problems. If I start slacking off or taking a break from working out, I do start getting a little bit of knee pain again. The difference is that now, I can feel it starting, and it cues me in to pay a little more attention to my exercises. It’s never become a big deal again, like it was in the past.


  3. I have been suffering with so joint pain for 5 to 6 years now and have tried just about everything from physio, massage,acupuncture and chiropractors. The pain has worsened into my buttocks and hips and groin. I also have patella femoral syndrome in my knees. My doctor put me on pain meds but I don’t like taking them and they only fill the pain a bit. My chiropractor uses an activator which seemed to help a year ago but temporarily. Four physicians say I have fibromyalgia but my gut tells me otherwise. I was doing quite a bit of swimming last summer and felt better. Once I stopped I got a lot worse. I didn’t know then that the pool was helping me because I tried so many different things over the past 5 years. But after hearing your story I’m convinced that it really helps. I’ve also had a lot of stress in my life in the past 2 years. My son fell sick and had to undergo brain surgery. This hit me physically and emotionally. I’m very happy I found your blog. I can relate to everything you’re saying. I am in constant pain every day and it’s affecting my life drastically. Doctors don’t have the answer you’re looking for. But I never give up. I intend to start swimming again very soon and hopefully it will be the answer to all my si joint problems. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gina, I’m so glad my blog has been helpful for you. I’m not too surprised to hear the doctors say you have fibromyalgia— I think that’s a common response when they aren’t sure what’s causing your pain. I definitely recommend trying to find a good physical therapist with experience in SI joint dysfunction, as this can make all the difference in the world. The pool is also a huge help so I really hope you’re able to get back in the water soon! Wishing you best of luck as you move forward!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I just found your blog and am so happy I did. I injured myself twisting about 3 months ago and was diagnosed with a compressed disc at the time. Even though my hips and sacrum were twisted, the chiropractor was treating me for disc compression. After 2 months of treatment and having a rib pop out and a painful recovery, I realized my issue really was my hips and sacrum. Then my massage therapist told me she thought it was si disfunction. So I started doing research and came across your blog. Everything you said made sense. I am searching for a good PT but have started doing the aqua therapy today.

    I have a few questions. I haven’t done much exercise since this began so I am not sure how much time I should work out in the pool. I don’t want to over do it too soon. I also started just a couple of stretches. I have an amazing massage therapist. What areas should she be concentrating on? You said you don’t let the touch the si joint so I’m wondering which muscles benefit most from the massage to help stabilize the joint.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It is helping me have hope for recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marilea, I’m so glad I could help! I’d say whatever muscles are the most tight are the ones your MT should focus on. You want all of your muscles to be functioning together as a unit, so anywhere there is tightness, you want to work on that. Some likely culprits, in my opinion, are the hamstrings, quadriceps, as well as the muscles of the calves– but your MT should be able to give you some feedback.

      You’ll notice that none of the muscles I listed actually run over the SI joint. That’s because, as you know, I don’t recommend any direct pressure to the SI joint. It’s not a matter of loosening up the joint itself, as some people will tell you (that’s the worst thing you could do!). I was able to get by with only stretching the muscles that cross the SI joint (such as the glutes), while receiving massage to other muscles in the legs and lower back.

      Also in terms of the pool– start small and work up! It’s much better to be pleasantly surprised that you’re ready for more, at your next workout, than to find you overdid it. Here’s a post that explains more. Hope this helps!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have herniated disc L5 and several through out my therasic spine also SI joint dysfunction and pelvic floor dysfunction. Injury going on nine years but only four years ago I finally was diagnosis properly with the SI and pelvic floor dysfunction. Biggest problem I have is going out of alignment, it effect my pelvic floor and also then my pudendel nerve. I am a mess and have not been able to get stabilized. Working my core makes my pelvic floor worse so I am complicated case for your average PT. I love your web sight, you have a lot of great information but if you have Suggestion how to fix a muscle imbalance with my issue of not being able to work my core or even how to find someone to treat me. My journey is too long to get into, I could write a book but I have not given up !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am about 8 months into this type of journey with spondylolisthesis and hip issues, was just about to the point of giving up and found your story. Thank you so much as now I am determined to go the distance and figure it out. thank you truly for sharing, bless you!


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