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SI Buddy Karen

Karen's Story

Back Story
Prior Lumbar Fusion
iFuse Implant Procedure Date
December, 2016 Right side / August, 2017 Left side
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"I am literally living again!"


In 2003, I had an L5-S1 lumbar fusion to treat a disc herniation that was causing me sharp low back pain, groin pain, and pain that went down the back of both my legs. Unfortunately, I developed a deep wound infection at the surgical site and was on antibiotics for several months. My infection finally resolved, but I was still experiencing the same low back, groin and leg pain I had prior to my surgery. I also started to experience severe rectal spasms. 

I followed up with my primary care physician who referred me to a pain management physician for evaluation and treatment. I received epidural steroid injections, physical therapy, narcotic pain medications, and Botox injections to try and help my ongoing pain and spasms. I had x-rays, a CT scan and an MRI. It was determined that I had developed scar tissue and possible nerve damage from my prior lumbar fusion surgery. 

In 2005, none of the conservative treatments were helping, so I had a spinal cord stimulator implanted. This did help my low back pain, but my leg and groin pain continued. In 2009, a second stimulator was placed over my sacrum, which made my pain symptoms tolerable. I was able to resume working out three times a week at our local YMCA and could now take care of my family.

In 2012, I started to notice a gradual increase in my low back, leg and groin pain, as well as pain in the buttock area. This pain felt different; I knew something else was going on. My pain became unmanageable. I was unable to perform simple daily activities like cooking and cleaning. Sitting was difficult and I was unable to travel to see my children and grandchildren. I began to feel depressed and worthless. Some days the pain was so bad I couldn’t even think straight. 

I received a referral to consult with a surgeon in Houston who ordered a CT scan. The scan showed the hardware from my previous lumbar fusion had become loose and that there were now arthritic changes of my SI joints. A revision surgery was recommended. In July of 2012, I had revision lumbar fusion and hardware removal. This surgery did relieve some of symptoms, but I still struggled with buttock, groin and leg pain.

"Two specialist evaluations and numerous diagnostic tests later, it was determined that my SI joints could be causing my ongoing pain"


Two specialist evaluations and numerous diagnostic tests later, it was determined that my SI joints could be causing my ongoing pain. I was referred, by my general practitioner, to a surgeon who was trained on the iFuse Procedure. 

In December of 2016, I had a right SI joint fusion utilizing the iFuse Implant System. When I woke up from surgery, my buttock, groin and leg pain were finally gone on my right side. I had so much joy in my heart! I was non-weight bearing for six weeks using a walker and then graduated to a cane. I attended physical therapy which was beneficial. My recovery was slow but steady. I continued to have pain on the left side. In August of 2017, I had a left SI joint fusion performed by a different surgeon as my previous surgeon had retired. My recovery this time was different as I was allowed to walk without many restrictions after surgery. I did my post-operative physical therapy at home. Today, I am back to water aerobics and attending bible study. I am able to sit for car rides and can travel to visit my children and grandchildren. This year I will take a vacation with my husband, something we have not been able to do together for 10 years.

The SI Buddy® program is reserved for patients who have been diagnosed by a trained surgeon and recommended for the iFuse procedure. SI Buddy volunteers have been successfully treated with the iFuse Implant System®. Although many patients have benefited from treatment with the iFuse Implant System, patients' results may vary. They are not medical professionals and their statements should not be interpreted as medical advice.

The iFuse Implant System® is intended for sacroiliac fusion for conditions including sacroiliac joint dysfunction that is a direct result of sacroiliac joint disruption and degenerative sacroiliitis. This includes conditions whose symptoms began during pregnancy or in the peripartum period and have persisted postpartum for more than 6 months. The iFuse Implant System is also intended for sacroiliac fusion to augment immobilization and stabilization of the sacroiliac joint in skeletally mature patients undergoing sacropelvic fixation as a part of a lumbar or thoracolumbar fusion. In addition, the iFuse Implant System is intended for sacroiliac fusion in acute, non-acute, and non-traumatic fractures involving the sacroiliac joint.

There are potential risks associated with the iFuse Implant System. It may not be appropriate for all patients and all patients may not benefit. For information about the risks, talk to your doctor and visit: Rx Only.

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