Is ice or heat better for SI joint pain?

Ice that is applied to your lower back and pelvis regions can help reduce inflammation and relieving pain, as well as discomfort. It will also help:

  • Decrease the swelling
  • Numb the sore tissues
  • Stop the nerve impulses
  • Loosen the tighter lower back muscles

To do this, you should lie on your side by placing a pillow underneath your head. Now, gently rub the frozen cup of ice in a circular movement around the area of pain. Make sure you are not exceeding five minutes in your ice massage. Repeat this process for 2 to 5 times a day.

If you think this ice massage is not for you, you can go for simpler options, such as a bag of ice wrapped in a piece of cloth.

On the other hand, heat that is applied around the SI joint may help alleviate pain by decreasing the muscle tension and/or spasms.

To do this, it is best to apply heat to the lower back as this is the region where the nerve root will be pinched and/or irritated. While applying heat therapy, it’s important to know that the temperature should be warm and not hot. The duration of the heat therapy should be 15 to 20 minutes per session if the pain isn’t severe. In case of severe pain, you can extend up to 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Note: As a general rule of thumb, ice therapy is recommended for the first 2 to 7 days after the onset of SI joint pain. Once the acute pain is subsided, you can start applying the heat therapy.