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SI Joint Pain, Anyone Else had Surgery on it?

Hi, I had an L5 S1 ALIF fusion one year ago next week and have never been out of pain since. I had DDD and the L5 had collapsed some. so they put in a cage and cadaver bone. I expected to be in pain for at least 4-6 months, but it never goes away, and I think it is almost worse now than before surgery.
I had another MRI in June and the surgeon said the fusion looked good and nothing new was going on, but now he is saying he feels it's my SI joints causing my pain. I guess there are certain tests he did that show it's that joint, but I am nervous. He wants to do another surgery (or 2) by implanting screws in this joint to stabilize it from moving. It doesn't sound like a very popular surgery, and he warned me that my insurance may not cover it. They are doing a pre-auth to see if it's covered, but my question is, could this really be my pain problem?? The pain is directly in the middle of my lower back and it hurts to bend forward or to push myself out of a chair. Bending over is out of the question, and even lifting my leg to put on a tennis shoe is painful.
He can't be sure, but he thinks it will do the trick. Has anyone else experienced this situation, or even had this surgery?? I would appreciate ANY feedback at all on this condition....
Thank you!!


  • Have you had an SI joint injection to see how much pain it's generating? I had it done a week ago for diagnostic purposes. When he injected the numbing agent I did feel a reduction in pain (mostly my right hip/leg) so he put the steroids in. I'm still not sure how much it's helped really but it does feel 'different' but I'm glad I had it done. At least I know where some of that pain is coming from. Did the initial shot take all of your pain away for an hour or longer? I wouldn't consider surgery (yet) because my SI joint isn't causing a large enough amount of my total pain for it to be worth it.

    When you say that your surgeon says he can't be sure but he thinks fusing your SI joint "will do the trick" it concerns me! I've been given the impression that scans of that specific area, physical examination & the diagnostic injection can tell them if it's the SI joint causing the pain. What diagnostic tests were performed before your fusion? Have you had second opinions along the way?

    I'm sorry. This must all be very frustrating & frightening for you. Stay strong!
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • edited 09/10/2014 - 5:44 AM
    Hi EnglishGirl,
    I have had pretty much all the diagnostic tests done in the last year, including the SI Joint injection, which did relieve the pain for about 3 days. My surgeon did the physical tests that get done in the office and the pain seemed to generate from the SI joint. I also have an issue with my left leg just giving out at times when I'm walking (which is a sign of SI joint dysfunction). The company is in the process of trying to get the surgery approved by my insurance and I had to write a "history" of everything done since the pain started. It was eye-opening to see that I have had 8 injections in less than 20 months, and only one of them was to the SI joint (which is when I got the relief). They were done by 3 different doctors so I have gotten second, and third opinions with no definitive diagnosis, except the SI joint. At this point, there really is no other reason for this pain, according to the MRI done 2 months ago.
    I hope you continue to have relief from your injection as well, I can't have any other injections until after Nov since I've had 4 already this year. I am just hopeful if the surgery gets approved, that it will solve the problem.
    Thank you again for your input, good luck to you too.
  • Have you tried an SI Joint Belt? In needs approved through insurance but I had one fitted yesterday and it's helped to relieve some of my sharp, stabbing lumbar and hip pain. It's worth asking about, you may get some relief in the meantime.

    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • SherrieSweetsSherrieSweets Posts: 10
    edited 09/13/2014 - 4:23 PM
    Hey SI joint folks... The first thing u do with suspected SI joint causing your pain is get it shot up with steroids to see if you get relief. If you do get some relief... I HIGHLY recommend a rhizotomy (burning the sheath off the SI joint nerves) as this gave me GREAT relief. I was having nuclear pain from lower back into hip into femur on upper thigh into groin. Couldn't even lift two inches off the floor with my foot. Getting into the car was hell on earth. Up n down was such an effort I only would consider it for bathroom or ice water n back down. So, get a rhizotomy on ALL the nerves on the SI joint that is lit up. Make sure they put u in twilight knockout and use guided X-ray to inject. You are sore n need to ice down after for a day or so but then WOW!!! Don't EVER let them talk you into surgery on SI joints. I've done the research and the outcome is super horrific. I wanted to post this as I'm not seeing anyone being recommended this treatment for possible relief. Also, I have a word doc on stretches n strengthening you can do while laying in bed that greatly helps SI issues, as tilted pelvis can cause SI joint problems if you'd like the information. There's a YouTube video that shows you how as well. Be well friends!!
    Sherrie Sweets
  • I had the SI joint fusion. Was advised afterwards, that "we" probably shouldn't have done it. I had pain standing, sitting, and lava-like burn in my leg. That was in 2001. Radio Frequency Ablation worked the best. I do get relief from SI belt by Serola, first was prescribed. Ins wouldn't pay when it wore out 13 yrs later. I got one off the internet. Meds don't help as much as ice and curling up in fetal position. Even after L4-S1 fusion.
  • Hi SIpain Mary,
    I am just wondering why they didn't think they should have done the SI fusion on you? I bought one of the belts too off the internet figuring if I did get any relief then it would help confirm the diagnosis, and it does help as long as I'm standing. When I sit or lay down, I guess it moves off of the desired place and the pain returns. If my insurance approves the surgery I am definitely going to move forward with it and just pray it is the answer. I have talked to others who went through the same procedure with the same implant they are going to use on me, and they were doing wonderful just 4 to 6 weeks out from the fusion. Both of them are at least a year post op and have no lingering pain or problems after the fusion. I have to believe that I will be like them and the SI fusion will solve the problem since I've already had the L5 S1 fused last year. I should know by the end of this week if insurance is going to approve the surgery which is scheduled for Oct. 6th right now. I hope to be posting on here how wonderful it is to be out of pain. They do have to do both sides 8 weeks apart so hopefully by Christmas I will be good to go.....that is my prayer!! Thanks for your input.
  • is always a good idea, but in your case, it seems like the best option. The second surgery your surgeon wants you to have sounds to me like an exploratory one, maybe this is why he warned you that your insurance may not cover it. If it would be the best choice, the insurance would probably pay for it. One more reason to go to somebody else for another consultation. Try to get some good references, and go see a doctor who is reputable, has a proven track record and comes with good recommendation, from patients and independent medical professionals. Good luck!
  • Hi goingtoCarolina. I'm with you. I'm also having surgery but only on the right side as that's the only side bothering my right now. I also have had a fusion of L2-4 last year. The injection helped me immensely for about 10 days. I have not tried the belt. I am on every medication they make I think and have done physical therapy, core strengthening, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and just about everything else you could think of. I have Medicaid and they are covering the surgery without question. The surgery is fairly new according to my doctor (2 years) and they aren't sure why it really works because the SI joint is not a joint that moves a lot to begin with, unlike the joints in the vertebrae. He is doing it through the hip and its minimally invasive so he also told me about 6 weeks with 1-2 nights int he hospital. However, because I have zero pain tolerance and an enormous tolerance to pain meds, I usually have a very hard time getting my pain under control and end up in the hospital for a week. I've been in the hospital twice in the past 5 months for a week each time just for pain control as I couldn't move at all. I'm praying this is the final answer to my back problems at least for a few years. As you can see by my picture, my back is really messed up from T12-L5, so I know more surgeries are in my future. Good luck to you all and I always recommend doing your own research and getting as many opinions as needed to get the results
    Severe DDD in S1-T12. 5 disc herniations. 5 compression fractures. Had a 2 level lumbar fusion/decompression on June 12, 2013. L4-5 foraminotomy on Jan 8, 2014, Right SI fusion in Oct 2014. Scheduled for L4-5 fusion to existing fusion on Sept 28, 2015
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