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Ever had a SI joint fusion?

CMatthewCCMatthew Posts: 49
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am just looking for anyone who has had a SI joint fusion done before? I'm looking at possibly having one done in the near future and was wondering how long or hard the recovery is? And how beneficial it was in the long run? I have been out of work now for two and a half years now due to a work injury and have gone through everything trying to fix me without surgery. i have a consultation in two weeks which more than likely will lead to this surgery, so any one out there I would love some feedback. Thank you for your time.


  • Hi,

    I'm not sure if this is the answer you're looking for but I just had fusion of S1 to L5 (and L5 to L4) 5 weeks ago. Cannot yet report on long term results, obviously.

    Are you talking about having S1 fused to S2? or more. Is that your question?

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Sorry can't tell you about fusion but you've said that you've tried everything but have you tried Prolotherapy to stabilize the back? It may be worth a try before trying fusion.
  • Wow, I didn't even know they did that until you mentioned it! Thank you for teaching me something new!

    Inchworm, I think he means actual fusion of the SI joint. It is not a common procedure, but it is done in cases of severe SI dysfunction.

    I hope you get some feedback. Please keep us posted!
  • Yes I am talking about my SI joint being fused. My major issue is what they call an upslip of the pelvis slash hip. It was caused when the wall of granite fell on me 2 1/2 yrs ago. It caused the right side to move up almost two inches and I have seen DRs for the past two yrs who could not find the source of my pain, but I was having tons of nerve pain and back pain. I did suffer two small fractures in two of my vertebrae and a couple bulged discs but the main problem is getting the pelvis and hip back down even with the left side. My legs are both 34 inches long but when i'm laying down and put my legs together my right foot is almost 2 inches shorter. It causes a lot of problems with the center of your body being off i'll tell you that. It isn't a common procedure by any means which is why I'm trying to find someone with a lil input. Thank you all for your comments so far and i will keep you updated.
  • Hi CMatthew,
    I too hope that someone will post their SI joint fusion experience as I am looking for this information as well. I only know of one person that has had this done and the outcome was not favorable. From what my surgeon tells me, there is a renewed interest in SI joint dysfunction but it remains a very difficult thing to diagnose. Would you mind sharing what you have done to diagnose your SI joint dysfunction and the symptoms you have?

    SI-Bone has advertised their MIS SI joint fusion approach on this site. Have you looked at this procedure? Do you know what procedure your surgeon uses? If you go through with the fusion, I hope you will post your experience. I wish you well on this journey.
  • Very interesting (well probably not for you) about the discrepancy in hip placement between the right and the left pelvis. Since my fusion I've felt like I am off center. My right hip feels higher and rotates slightly to the left while my left hip feels like it is sitting lower. Using an SI belt helps to a degree but does not resolve the nerve pain. It only enables me to walk slightly easier. Do you find it difficult to walk? I cannot walk more than 30ft without having to stop and often times my right leg cannot bear weight. Additionally, I cannot take a normal stride. By any chance do you have these symptoms?

    Thanks in advance for sharing.
  • yes I cannot bear weight on my right foot at all and when I sit I have to stay off of my Right cheek. My Siatic nerve is under a ton of stress because my ligaments and muscles all around are not doing what they are supposed to. I too wear a SI belt but does not do much for me. Mine is on 24 hrs a day 7 days a week. I even have one for the shower. They have been trying to manually pull down and stimulate the right leg to get me back into place then put the belt on hoping it will stay but it just goes right back the way it was within hrs after I leave there office. I see a specialist once a week who specializes in this area and then I go to a phys. ther. for 3 days a week for the same manual stimulation. i have recently stopped going to the PT because when I leave its just like re injuring myself all over again. So my specialist has set up a consult with a surgeon who is known for his great work in this kind of fusion. There aren't many here in Minnesota who do it but This Surgeon even travels over to Europe to teach and demonstrate this surgery along with here in the US. So I will be seeing him in a few weeks and definitely keep you informed.
  • I am shocked how similar our symptoms are. I too have been wearing my SI belt day in and day out ever since I figured out that it gives me the ability to sit, stand and walk better. Do you have a special belt for the shower? Unlike you I have been completely unable to find someone who can help me figure all this out. I've had to piece together all my symptoms and research this on my own. I am fairly sure I know of the surgeon that you are seeing. I'll be curious if he uses the percutaneous approach. Did you look at the SI-bone site and check out the MIS approach? I wonder if the surgeon you are seeing uses it. Thank you so much for sharing your situation. This an extremely frustrating, painful and life limitating problem. Good luck with your appointment I hope you get some good information that helps you decide what to do next. I'll be looking for your updates and wishing you the best.
  • Yes this is not easy for DRs to find if they don't take the time to look into it. Some have yet to believe that is an actual thing. It took 2 1/2 yrs of DRs saying you have healed fine and we don't see any physical (MRI, Bone Scan, etc.) findings to back the kind of pain you are experiencing. Then A DR that said there is nothing wrong with me anymore and I need to start a work hardening program at a local PT place near me. It was there that the very 1st day I walked in there the PT said to me you have an upslip with your hip/pelvis and it has your SI joint out of whack to put it bluntly. From there he explained to me and sent me to a specialist that deals with these types of problems and other rare back issues and this DR explained everything with great detail and it all made so much sense finally and I don't feel like I am crazy anymore! He wasn't able to stabilize my SI joint which is why he is setting up the consult with this surgeon who has used for two other of his patients and he is actually coming with me for it. It is great to have somebody actually care and follow up on things the way he has. I will keep you updated and let you know things as I find them out and hopefully it will help you as well 1994SanFrancisco.
  • I just met a customer of mine (new one) yesterday who had his done. They fused the SI to one hip (he said) does that sound right? He said he was out riding 4 wheelers less than 2 months out (against the doctors orders) but felt great after 2 weeks.

    He was a young man early 30's- he had been injured something fell on him and that was the only option to stablize.

    Sorry I don't have more details.

  • JulieA,
    Nice to heat that this procedure can be successful, thanks for sharing. How is your clients mobility? Does he have a normal gait?
  • It's been since April 2008 that I had my surgery to fixate and cause a fusion in my right SI joint. Most people here assume that means S1 and S2 but is incorrect. the sacroiliac joints attach the pelvis to the spine, and when they are not working right, the pain is unelievable, because they are involved in the upper body balancing and supporting the lower body. Before I had the surgery..I couldnt even eat a meal from a table surface...I had to lift the plate higher. Doing dishes at the kitchen sink was excruciating and so was brushing my teeth.
    I am glad that I had the surgery. I had tried everything with no success. I still have pain but it is usually from trying to do normal activities like grocery shopping, laundry, housecleaning. The pain can be managed with pain meds at lower doses than what I used to take. I dont think I will ever be normal again. I still use a cane to walk and walking is challenge. Driving is possible, although I avoid it, as it seems to really aggravate the SI joint, along with stairs.
    If you would like to know more like where I went and recovery info, feel free to PM here and I can share more.
  • I was just discussing my SI joint instability last night with a spiney friend. I went thru a series of lysis of adhesions via caudal approach around my L4-5 fusion, and I had had symptoms of SI joint instability. During fluoroscopy for the LOA, the SI joint was injected and there were cysts all the way around my left SI joint. The pm doctor and a spine fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon are learning how to perform the SI fusion right now. I'm not interested in being one of their first patients, but because the SI joint pain is the absolute worst aspect of my pain, I'm going to need to address it in the future.

    I obviously have nothing to contribute to your search for information, since my SI issues are just becoming realized, but I wish you the very best, and it sounds like you have found a dr with much knowledge about SI joint disease and the experience to go along with it.

    Much luck, and please let us know what you decide to do.

  • Yes- My client kind of walks side to side (nothing terrible) but since I had never met him before it was normal for me. He is young and pretty fit & active.

    I am sure the out come is like other surgery- depends on a number of things. Like the skill of the surgeon, the exact style of the surgery, the health of the patient etc.


  • I had my right SI joint fused on October of 2010, using the SI, i-fuse technique. The surgeon had a difficult time inserting the triangular rods, because my spine is fused from T9-S1. The screws got in the way, and he had to do the top implant three times, because he kept getting in the neuroforamen. My question is, has anyone else had this type of surgery? Most people have a quick recovery, but after two months, I am still in pain. I am still having a hard time brushing my teeth, and I understand the need to lift your plate up to your mouth! I am wondering if this type of fusion can be a failed fusion? Then what is done? Any comments will be appreciated.
  • Hi,
    I am sorry to hear that your fusion was difficult and that you are in pain. I hope that things turn around for you. I am wondering why it is difficult to brush your teeth or why you have to lift your plate to eat. Why would your SI joints (or surgery) effect you in with eating or brushing teeth? Did you have both joints fused or just one side? What does your surgeon say about healing time for this?

    I am familiar with the type of fusion you had because I have been researching the various SI joint fusion techniques and ran across this method. I wonder how many SI joint fusions your surgeon has performed? It is difficult to find surgeons with experience with this kind of fusion. Did your surgeon give you any references to talk to that have had the same procedure? It seems to be difficult to find people who have had this done. I've been looking for information and just don't find much.

    Hang in there, I hope each passing day is easier for you.
  • Hi Everyone,

    My husband had his right S.I. joint fused on 12/2/2010, in Jacksonville, Fl. The dr. fused it using the titanium rods, S.I. bone product. He is still in pain but getting better each day. He is unable to use his one foot for the next 8 weeks, and is getting around with a walker. Still on pain meds, but he says the pain he once had is totally gone, now the only pain that he is feeling is from the surgery. He suffered the last 10 yrs, and has every treatment, out there and now finally the surgery. We researched this for yrs, and all the dr's said don't do it because it was such a horrible recovery and outcome, until this new procedure came into the picture, then we jumped on it.
  • coffee cup- that sounds about the same way mine is being done. I have some nerve issues in my right leg that I hope subside with this surgery along with the back pain. The DR seems to think that they both should go away with the surgery so fingers crossed. I'm pretty positive my back will come out of this ok but I'm not sure about the leg but I will take 1 out of two any day!! 1 week and 2 days and counting every second!!!!
  • Hi CMatthews, Great Luck! Kens surgery went really well, not only is all of his S.I. pain gone but he is also doing better with the numbness/tingling that was going down his right leg. Dr. has him taking calcium, says it may help with the fusing.
    Ken was up sitting the next day and flying home on the 3rd day after surgery. You can sit just fine, but can't put that leg down for 8 weeks according to our dr. He also says after 8 weeks, he wants Ken in a pool for therapy. There isn't much more to this, hopefully yours will go real well and you will feel great. We are only at the 4 week mark today, so I will let you know should anything new arise. Keep us posted, we will love to hear about your progress. Don't worry it's really a simple surgery, it's not like the back surgery everyone associates it with.
  • Thank you Coffee Cup for the reassuring message!
  • I am fused L4-5 and L5-S1 as well as up to T1. My problem is spondylolisthesis at L5-S1. I was told that that was the only non fused area of my back and the risk for hip fractures would be greatly increased if I had this joint fused as well. I have sciatica pain in my rt. buttocks down my leg and heel. My heel is now numb. Looking into neuro stimulation or radiofrequency ablation. Anyone out there with similar situation?
  • Well it sounds like the some of the SI problems I was having. From what you said you haven't had your SI joint fused. The L5-S1 isn't your SI joint so maybe get a ct scan of your SI joint and see if it looks like there are any issues in there or get an SI joint injection and see if it gives you relief which also acts as a diagnostic procedure to see if it is actually your SI joint that is the problem. Sounds like you have gone through quite a bit already though. Best of luck to you!
  • No, that is the only joint that hasn't been fused. I had a CT scan this past year and I have pseudoarthrosis and spondylolisthesis at L5-S1 so it's a very narrow opening. I'm hoping for a different perspective from a new pain mgmt md next month.
  • Sorry janiemcman I misunderstood you I thought you were thinking that the L5-S1 joint was your SI joint. Anyway hope you get a better diagnosis from your new pain mgmnt next month. Happy New Year as well!
  • Nice to hear that you have a surgery date. I am sure you are counting down the days to being on the other side and regaining mobility and resolving your pain. What will post-op be like? Do you have to keep the weight off your fused side for 6 weeks or so? The newer procedures seem to be an easier recovery and I hope that is the case for you.

    I am met with two surgeons regarding my instability and will work with a rehab guy to see if I can make any progress without surgery. It will be intersting to see if they will let me do PT without the SI belt. Without it I will not be able to do much. I wish I only had one side to deal with but both joints are unstable. Or at least we think it is the joints.

    I hope the surgery goes smoothly. Keep us posted on your progress.
  • Hi,
    Just checking in and hoping all went well with your SI joint fusion.
    Good luck with your recovery. Let us know how you are doing.
  • '94 SanFrancisco it got pushed to this coming Wed. the surgeons office didn't get the dictation in to Work Comp in time for the Hospital to hold the surgery date so it got bumped. Oh well what's another few days........after waiting all these years. I will definitely let you and everyone know as soon as I get back and I appreciate the support you have given.
  • At least they got you back on the schedule relatively fast. I'll be looking for your post that tells us how you sailed through the procedure :)

    I saw a new PT last week and he said that I have a right rotated ilium, the most he has ever seen. I have no idea how much PT will help my situation but I am giving it a shot. I may not be too far behind you though.

  • Hi,
    Just checking in and hoping all went well. Keeping positive thoughts that you are in minimal pain and already feeling better than pre-surgery. Let us know how you are doing.
  • Hi CMatthews,

    Just wanted to let you know, yesterday was 6 weeks for Ken. He is walking a few steps without the walker and has little to no pain. Looks like his surgery is going to be a success! Will keep you updated. Meanwhile please keep us posted on your progress, hopefully your surgery/recovery will be just fine like Kens.
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