What to Expect from SI Joint Treatment
The journey from deciding to find a solution for your sacroiliac joint pain to experiencing lasting SI joint pain relief can be a long one for many people, especially if you don't know what to expect. Following the right steps can make the process easier. Here's what you may experience on your SI joint pain treatment journey.
1. Get an Accurate Diagnosis
If you don't have an accurate diagnosis, it's not likely that you'll get the right treatment for your pain, whether it's SI joint, lumbar, spine, or another cause. A doctor trained in SI joint diagnosis and treatment will provide the appropriate SI joint evaluation or examination and other diagnostic tests, and will be able to interpret the results to narrow down the cause of your pain. This includes:
- Health History
- Physical Exam of Spine and Hips
- Provocative Tests
- Diagnostic Injections
Here's what to share with your doctor.
2. Try Conservative Therapies
If you do receive an SI joint pain diagnosis, your doctor may have a few pain relief options to try before considering surgery:
- Pain Medication
- Physical Therapy
- Therapeutic SI Joint Injections
- RF Denervation
In fact, your doctor and your insurance coverage will likely insist on conservative therapies before discussing surgery. Be sure to keep good records of all the conservative therapies you try in case you should need to apply for insurance approval.
3. Ask about SI Joint Surgery
Two types of SI joint fusion surgery exist: traditional "open" surgery and minimally invasive surgery (MIS). If conservative therapies fail, consider asking your doctor about your surgical options for SI joint pain relief. If your doctor determines you are a candidate for SI joint fusion, be sure to connect with your health insurance carrier about the proper steps to take to ensure coverage.
MIS SI Joint Fusion: iFuse
iFuse is the ONLY minimally invasive surgical option available for SI joint fusion clinically proven effective by multiple high-level clinical trials for certain causes of SI joint dysfunction.18,19,20,21,22 The iFuse Implant System is used in a surgical procedure that is performed in an operating room with either general or spinal anesthesia.
The iFuse Implant System may not be appropriate for all patients and not all patients may benefit. Read more about the potential risks.
iFuse Procedure: The entire procedure is performed through a small incision (approximately 3 cm long), along the side of your buttock. During the procedure, fluoroscopic guidance provides your surgeon with live imaging to facilitate proper placement of the implants. Typically three implants are placed, depending on your size.
iFuse Recovery: Your doctor will most likely recommend using crutches, a cane or a walker for 3 or more weeks after surgery. Your surgeon will schedule a post-operative visit to evaluate the surgical incision and to assess your progress after surgery.
Traditional or "Open" SI Joint Surgery
Open surgery involves a longer incision, screws and typically bone grafts, a significantly longer stay in the hospital and a longer recovery time. Pain relief is several points lower than MIS as reported by patients 12 months after surgery.61,62,63 Open surgery is not typically recommended anymore by doctors for SI joint fusion.64
Several options are available to address SI joint dysfunction, starting with non-surgical therapies that may be performed repetitively. Some people respond well to physical therapy and exercises. Others require more interventional treatments like therapeutic SI joint injections, and some require SI joint fusion.