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Sacroiliac surgery / fusion...



  • What you had done before surgery, as well as your symptons are so similar to my story. Can't tell you how many times I've been in physical therapy to strengthen my core (4-5 times), but it never rid me of the pain. I also had facet nerve block shots at all 6 levels of the lumbar spine with no relief of pain. The pain management doctor also wanted me to have the nerves burnt but I couldn't justify it if the nerve blocks didn't work on the facet joints, so I left his services. Have been to so many doctors, I've lost track. The pain management doctor I am seeing now is pretty good - first time there, he truly listened to my symptons description, looked at my x-rays and MRI (7th one out of 8 I've had in 2.5 years), and thought my problem was a hypermobile SI joint on the right side. It was a diagnosis that made sense to me. When I wake up in the morning, I am without pain. As the day goes on and depending what I do, the cracking starts and muscle spasms begin. Any bending, lifting, or twisting hurts once the back muscles tire and cannot hold the SI joint in place. Tennis, the sport I love, doesn't help my problem, but I refuse to give up the game. However, I can get out of the pain by lying down. If I want to live a non-sedentary life, I need to find a solution to this problem. You have given me hope - proven in my mind that my problem is a hypermobile SI joint and given me the name of an excellent surgeon to go to. Hope to get an appointment with him the first of Sept. when I am on my way home from NC.
    Thanks again for your information - it really helps.
    What college do you play softball for?
  • susie,

    in reading your story i agree, it's so much like mine. i too would wake up pain free and jump headfirst into activity, but by midday i was struggling to walk taking baby steps. it was awful. i saw 3 different physical therapists and was given core programs as well, but if anything it made it worst. the only thing that gave me relief was not moving- and i had to literally wiggle around in bed and cram pillows everywhere to find that one comfortable spot.

    i wish there was a way to recover without surgery but i finally gave up. i bought a couple expensive si belts which were supposed to keep my hypermobile si stable throughout the day, but all they did was make me walk with a waddle and squeeze my core so tight it was uncomfortable. if you have a facebook account you should check out this page someone turned me onto the other day. it's a group page called sacro-iliac joint syndrome / si joint dysfunction - sijd.

    i joined yesterday and am trying to find more people who've gotten surgery and successfully rehabbed. before you get surgery you should check it out. i'm having a great recovery thus far but haven't yet recovered fully so it would be good to get more than one experience :)

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  • Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks for the info on that SIJD Facebook account - I was on it for several hours getting information on it. By the way, the arthogram I had last week proved that the hypermobile SI joints are my pain generators and bilateral SI joint fusion should be my next step (since I have done everything else to immobilize them). However, the doctor told me that most orthopedic doctors do not or do not like to perform this surgery and suggested I investigate for doctors that have done quite a few of these surgeries. So I have made an appointment with your surgeon on Sept. 2nd (when I am on my way back from NC) - getting all my info and tests together to present to him. Do you think I can have everything done at that appointment to set up a surgery date? I live 5-6 hours away from Jacksonville, so he is not just around the corner for me. I cannot find any other SI joint doctors nearer to me in South Florida to go to. And I'll go anywhere to have the best - having a pain-free life is at stake.
    Hope your rehab is going well, getting stronger each day. O:)
  • Hey Susie,

    Sorry to hear that the SI is the generator, but at the same time I'm glad you finally have confirmation. I knew listening to your story you would get it confirmed.

    Day 1 - I got a fresh CT and an SI block (which you should call and ask the office to schedule if they haven't already!) He will make you get a block done with the hospital there because he trusts that they'll do it how he wants and won't operate until he's 100% sure it's been blocked properly.

    Day 2 - After I had a successful block we thoroughly went over my history (more than an hour 1 on 1). He described my surgery options and suggested which one he thought was best for me.

    We handled all of that the first visit and everything for pre-op was in line for whenever I got the time to return for surgery. It'll be no issue, he's through and patient. I also live 5 hours away and had to make the commute. I spent the night in Jacksonville to get new tests (since mine were a year or so old and didn't show any damage). If you bring your images he won't make you get new tests so that'll save time and you can get everything done in 1 day.

    For the block and consultation you'll need about 3-4 hours so you may end up wanting to spend the night. But I would definitely suggest that you call up his receptionist Jennifer and make sure you're in for only a day. He may want to see you, send you for a block then have you walk back over afterwards to see how it went. His office is adjacent to the hospital where the SI block was given to me so it's convenient to get between the two on foot. But yeah, definitely ask Jennifer if he wants you to get a block that day so she can schedule that for the day your there!

    Thanks for the well wishes! I'm doing good rehabbing thank goodness!
    Hope your visit goes well Susie!

  • Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks again for your helpful information - you saved us an extra trip to Jacksonville. Talked to Ashley, the office manager, yesterday and she is setting me up for a SI Block the same day I have the appointment. She told me that Dr. Smith has done over 100 SI joint fusions, with 40 of them being i-Fuse. I'm impressed. Listening to you, I have to assume the success rate must be up there too. I am sending ahead of time to Dr. Smith my test/doctor visitation reports, lower back pain medical history resume, and all the information forms they asked me to filled out. Ashley told me to bring in person all the test CDs - afraid of them getting lost in the mail.
    When I am almost pain free the beginning of the day,I wonder why do this surgery, but later on in the day when the scrutiating pain sets in, I know why I am pursuing surgery - to once and for all hopefully get my life back. The pain is definitely getting worse.
    I thank God for crossing our paths. May I also be able to help someone else in this situation down the line like you have done for me.

    Keep up the good rehabbing! Doing physicl therapy? Keep me posted on your progress.

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  • Glad I could give you the heads up to save you a trip and that extra cost!

    One last final tip: if your SI block is in the morning try to get up and about early that morning to agitate the SI. The first one I had I literally woke up and walked over practically pain free (and left doubting I needed surgery because I wasn't in normal pain beforehand). The second one I woke up and went up some stairs and for a light jog to put myself in pain. It may sound crazy but when I got that injection and got relief I was more confident scheduling surgery because I knew it was necessary.

    Don't forget your cd's! And I'm glad I was able to help. As soon as I got home from my hospital stay I promised myself I'd get online and look to share my story with anyone in need because there just aren't enough of us out here helping one another. I hope your visit goes well- keep me posted :)

    I got the contact info of a rehab guy in Lakeland about 2 hours from me in St. Pete. I am doing my Dr. ordered pool exercises and plan to drive across i-4 to see this guy soon :) Maybe he'll have some more info I can pass along for your post-op!
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