- North Carolina
- Back Story
- SI Joint Degeneration
- iFuse Implant Procedure Date
- February, 2017 Bilateral
"SI-BONE gave me my life back. I’m dancing again, pain free!"
I first started to notice mild low back and bilateral hip pain in 2009. It wasn’t overly bothersome, so most days I could just ignore it. In 2013 my pain started to change. It felt like a sharp stabbing and burning sensation in my low back and hips. I was working full-time as an interior design assistant and was finding it difficult to perform my work duties. I went to my primary care physician who referred me to a spine specialist. After a physical exam and x-rays, it was determined I had degenerative disc disease and I was sent for epidural steroid injections (ESI), physical therapy, and aqua therapy. The ESI did provide some pain relief for several months, but overall these therapies were not beneficial. It was becoming difficult to stand and I had to use a cart to lean on when doing my grocery shopping. I could no longer do housework because pushing a vacuum cleaner or sweeping the floor was too painful. I returned to the spine specialist and he ordered an MRI of my lumbar spine. The diagnosis came back as mild spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis. I was prescribed a back brace and another round of epidural steroid injections. The back brace was useless, and I had minimal pain relief from the injections.
I decided it was time to get a second opinion. My neighbor referred me to a group of surgeons with whom she had had a good experience. I had an appointment with the physician’s assistant who reviewed my records and performed a physical exam which included provocative testing of the sacroiliac (SI) joints. He felt that my pain could be coming from my SI joints and he sent me for bilateral diagnostic SI joint injections. “The injections relieved 90% of my pain!” Based on my response, the surgeon suggested a bilateral SI joint fusion utilizing the iFuse Implant System.® In early 2015, we submitted for procedure approval to my insurance company and this was denied. With the help of my surgeon’s office and the SI-BONE reimbursement support team, we began the insurance appeals process. We submitted my first appeal and it was denied again with the reason stating, “this was an unnecessary surgery for my condition.” The health plan requested another MRI. I had the MRI, submitted the results, my surgeon had a peer-to-peer review with my insurance carrier and the procedure was denied for the 3rd time. This time they said they still needed more information and requested a CT scan. All these tests resulted in additional out-of-pocket costs that I had to pay, but I was not going to give up. “I had been fighting my insurance provider for 2 years.” I wrote a letter describing how my SI joint pain was affecting my quality of life, submitted the CT scan results, and my surgeon contacted my insurance company directly. Finally, they approved the procedure! “I was in shock when it got authorized.”
In February 2017, I had bilateral SI joint fusion with the triangular iFuse Implant. I noticed a different type of pain right away, surgical rather than SI joint related. I used a walker for a few weeks and was able to work from home a few hours a day. I was able to return to work full-time at 4 months and perform all my required work duties. My family and friends were amazed at how smoothly my recovery went. I have lost 53lbs since my surgery doing in home workouts, strength training, attending Zumba classes 3 times a week, and walking a few miles a day.
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