- Back Story
- Prior Lumbar Fusion
- iFuse Implant Procedure Date
- May, 2016 Right side
"I feel that after 11 years, I finally can resume my normal life."
I was injured in April of 2006. I was working for the US postal service and was emptying a large bin of mail. I was up on my tip toes bending over the bin reaching for a large bundle of magazines at the very bottom. I felt a pulling sensation on the right side of my lower back, but assumed It was a just a strained muscle. Over the next week my back pain increased and I developed pain in my right groin. It felt like a buzzing sensation. My sister-in-law worked in an orthopedic surgeon’s office and set me up with a consultation with one of their physicians. He did a physical exam, took x-rays and gave me a prescription for physical therapy. The physical therapy was not helpful, so I returned to the orthopedic surgeon. I was sent for an MRI and was given the diagnosis of spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis. I was referred to a pain management physician and received 3 lumbar epidural steroid injections, narcotic pain medication, and a discogram. The epidural steroid injections gave me minimal relief. I was still having major low back and severe groin pain. I called the pain in my groin the “jolts”. It was the kind of pain that would stop you in your tracks.
In January of 2007 I had a two-level lumbar fusion. I went to physical therapy for 6 months and wore a back brace. My pain symptoms remained the same after my fusion surgery. I continued with pain management, physical therapy, and narcotic pain medication. I went back to limited duty at the post office working 20 hours a week. I never really had any improvement in my symptoms. In 2010, I had another MRI which indicated the levels above and below my fusion needed repair. I underwent a multi-level revision lumbar fusion which added additional hardware to my back. Following the surgery, I was still in considerable pain. I was unable to return to my job. The groin pain and “the jolts” would not subside. It became more difficult to walk and I had to use a wheelchair when shopping and in the airport. I really had to plan ahead if anything required me to walk. I felt like the pain was affecting my whole life. I finally decided it was time to see a different pain management physician for another opinion. He suggested we try an SI joint injection. I had one injection and it was like magic! I still was taking Vicodin and oxycontin daily. I tried to wean myself off the oxycontin and it was very difficult. I continued with the SI joint injections every 3 months for the next several years.
When the injections became less effective, my pain management physician suggested I consult with a surgeon regarding the iFuse Procedure(SM). I agreed to the consultation, and it was determined that I would be a good candidate for the procedure. I was unsure if I wanted to undergo another surgical procedure. In June of 2015, I agreed to the surgery. A few days prior to my procedure, I was contacted by the board of labor stating the procedure was considered experimental and the surgery was denied. I went through the appeals process with the help of my surgeon’s office. My surgeon suggested a peer-to-peer review and they refused. I was sent to a “hand specialist” for an independent review and the procedure was denied again. I requested that my case manager send me for another independent review, this time to an orthopedic back specialist. They agreed and my procedure was finally approved!
In May of 2016, I underwent a right SI joint fusion utilizing the iFuse Implant System®. After surgery, I used a walker for 4 weeks and then a cane. I did aqua therapy and attended physical therapy for 12 weeks. My recovery was slow but steady. I stopped taking all pain medications by 6 months and felt like I had finally turned the corner. I continue to walk and to increase my activities. For the first time since 2007, I can walk on the beach!
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