The sacrum is a composed of five vertebrae (S-1 to S-5) which make up a triangular bone that is attached to hip bone. Pain in this area can include strained muscles, a bulging or herniated disk, spinal stenosis and even osteoporosis. Sciatica, which is more common in the lumbar region, can occur in the S-1 vertebrae but is less common in the S-2 to S-5 vertebrae. Treatment for sacral vertebrae pain can vary depending on a person's condition. However, a combination of rest, ice and rehabilitation exercises can be help control pain as the sacrum heals.
Pain in the sacrum is sometimes called sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Women tend to be more prone to this ailment than men because their sacrum is wider and shorter. Pain usually affects one particular side of the back and can radiate down to the knees, legs or ankles. According to his Spine-health.com article titled "Sacral Region, " spinal surgeon Dr. Peter F. Ullrich Jr. says, "While the exact root of the pain is difficult to pinpoint, disruption of the normal joint motion between the sacrum and ilium is a likely source of pain arising from either: --Hypermobility (too much movement in the sacroiliac joint) or --Hypomobility ( too little movement in the sacroiliac joint)."
Effects of Rest, Ice and Heat
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction or any other sacrum-related pain can generally be treated with a combination of rest, ice and heat. Resting prevents further injury to the sacrum. Rest also gives the ice time to reduce inflammation and pain. Most doctors recommend that ice be used within the first 48 hours after the onset of an injury. Ice promotes vasoconstriction, which reduces inflammation pain by limiting the flow of lymph fluids and blood to the area. Ice packs can be effective as they stay compressed against the injured area. Then the swelling subsides. Heating pads of hot baths can help increase blood (with its healing properties) flow to the area.
Types of Medications
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen are often used to relieve sacral pain until a proper diagnosis is made. Ibuprofen is a COX-2 inhibitor. It helps prevent COX-2 enzymes from producing too many prostaglandins (chemicals) that spur swelling and pain in joints and bones. A doctor may prescribe steroids for those who have more severe pain.
Types of Exercises & Massage
Some basic stretching and strength-building exercises can provide relief for sacral vertebrae pain. A lot of these exercises can be done while lying down, such as squeezing the buttocks, pressing the back to the floor or pulling both knees toward the chest. Different standing stretches can also help alleviate pain. Exercise can increases blood flow to the sacrum as well as strengthen supporting muscles. Stronger supporting muscles can take the strain off the sacrum and help alleviate pain. Massage can help reduce scar tissue, loosen muscles up and relieve pain. One technique is called friction massage and entails rubbing across the joints in the sacrum area. This can be done through a licensed massage therapist.
There is no set time frame for healing pain in the sacrum. Those with more severe cases may require surgery plus rehabilitation. Generally, those who are more aggressive with treatment tend to heal faster than those who are not.
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