- Back Story
- SI Joint Degeneration
- iFuse Implant Procedure Date
- May 2013, right side, October 2019 left side
“Surgery was successful, and I am back at the gym working out pain free”
My low back pain started 20 years ago. It would come and go, and it was manageable, so I didn’t think much of it. In 2010, my right low back pain became worse, so I consulted my PCP (primary care physician). He took x-rays and referred me to a neurosurgeon for consultation. The surgeon looked at my medical history and imaging and suggested I would benefit from an anterior lumbar fusion. I was not excited about that option and researched other surgeons in my area on the internet for another opinion. I found a second neurosurgeon who did not believe I needed a lumbar fusion after looking at my records and performed a physical exam. He ordered an MRI, which came back negative, and suggested my pain could be generated from my right SI joint. He suggested SI joint injections. I was also taking Norco and using ice and heat intermittently. The therapeutic SI joint injections provided excellent pain relief for several years. As time went on, the injections provided less pain relief.
In 2012, I noticed discomfort in my right hip area. I was getting up from a bar stool in the kitchen one evening and felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my right hip and buttock area. I was starting to have trouble sitting as well. I was retired but volunteering at two different non-profit agencies, and still trying to work out at the gym. I scheduled an appointment with my surgeon’s physician assistant to determine next steps. She mentioned that my surgeon had recently been trained in a new minimally invasive SI joint fusion procedure and that I might be a candidate. I was sent for one last diagnostic SI joint injection to confirm that the pain was coming from my SI joint and, if so, I might benefit from the procedure. The surgeon confirmed I would be a good candidate for this new procedure and that I would be his first patient. I said, “let’s do it!”
May 2013, I had a right SI joint fusion utilizing the iFuse implant system. My post-surgery pain was bearable. I had help at home and used a raised toilet seat and shower chair. I was in a wheelchair for two weeks and then used a walker for two weeks. I did have physical therapy which was very beneficial. At my four-week checkup, I was released to resume my volunteer activities and return to the gym where I walked on the treadmill and used light weights and bands.
In early 2019 I began to experience a dull ache in my left buttock and hip area. It was uncomfortable to sit, so I resumed taking my Norco, ibuprofen, and ice. I returned to my surgeon guessing that my pain was most likely coming from my left SI joint. He performed some provocative tests and thought the pain was coming from my SI joint. We decide to try physical therapy first which was not helpful. He sent me for a diagnostic SI joint injection which gave me initial pain relief. I was diagnosed with left SI joint dysfunction and had an SI joint fusion with the iFuse system in October of 2019. My right side was doing well, and I had no recurrence of right sided symptoms.
Recovery was much easier the second time. I used the walker for four weeks. I also went to physical therapy. I am currently working out in my basement with a recumbent bike and weights due to COVID-19 closing all the gyms. I have 9 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild I hope to be able to visit very soon. I love to travel, attend the theater, and take organ lessons. These activities have all been suspended due to COVID-19. Once I get my second vaccine, and things are open, I will be out there living life again to the fullest.
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