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SI Fusion frustrated and over it!

roseanns823rroseanns823 Posts: 2
edited 11/10/2014 - 2:23 PM in Chronic Pain
I have had two back surgeries first one in 2006 which went well for a few years, I continued to do work that my surgeon then warned me would cause problems later if I did not changer careers, I continued with working in 2010 the pain returned by 2012 I was told by my new surgeon if I did not have this second surgery in 5 years I would be in a wheelchair or using a walker, I thought I would have same results as first surgery, NOT the case, I have not gotten any relief and the pain has gotten worse over the last 2 years, I have rods from L2 down to L5 SI fusions, I have had injections been on pain medication I thought would be no longer needed after the 2nd surgery in 2012, now my surgeon has told me that with surgeries similar to mine they now have found it causes SI dysfunction, he now wants to do an SI fusion, I have just recently had only 1 of 3 bilateral SI injections, because I said for the first 2 hours after he did the numbing medication to do the injection I had relief until that wore off and pain level went from a 7 to a 6 the first few hours and back to average 7-8 daily he feels that the SI is the problem and wants to go ahead with this SI fusion, I have not had an MRI since the last surgery, I told him I would proceed with 2nd injection as scheduled but want a current MRI before I decide to do yet another surgery, I am over the idea of having any more surgeries and over having to take medication he seems to think this is my cure.....I have pain that is from my upper back that radiates down to my buttocks both sides burning always, into both of my legs not just the left as in 2006, recently the soles of my feet have gone numb, I also have numbing in my arms and hands where my finger tips take a few hours to stop tingling at times, I am concerned that this is not the answer to lets just do an SI fusion and it should "fix" your pain and problems. I miss having my career I have not been able to work for the last few years, I miss my daily enjoyment of life I once had! Is my surgeon making a decision too fast to lets just do another surgery or will this surgery bring some "life" back into my daily living? I called today to check on the MRI approval with the insurance company and his office has yet to request the MRI, I am going to have the injection in the morning and will ask him when his office plans on submitting the papers for approval on the MRI, I have a web site for their office to send request to for a quick response in hand. I just had a MRI of my elbow at same office with a different surgeon that was done and approved in 2 days, I cannot lift a gallon of milk with my right arm at all, that is an entirely separate issue from my back surgeries that started a little over a year ago in left elbow and went to right elbow where the bone is sticking out, I will see that ortho surgeon at same office on Wednesday for follow up and treatment plan for that. I just feel my back surgeon is too "lets line them up schedule another SI fusion" was his exact words when he left the room after my exam and I could hear him talk to his staff and they were laughing like alright we have another one, that bothered me even more after hearing that, and after learning his staff has yet to submit the MRI request yet today from my insurance company makes me very hesitant to go any further with any treatments. What exactly will an SI fusion do with someone who has had 2 back surgeries already before age 48 and now at 51 I am so over the constant pain, doctors, medications, has anyone had the same experience after 2 back surgeries and rods and fusion from L2 to SI that could offer any advice? I just want to have some life and enjoyment of daily life I used to be all of my life up until the surgery in 2012?!


  • http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/welcome-spine-health-how-get-started

    You can read about the SI joint conditions and treatment options in the SI joint pain forum found under the Forum Home link
  • EnglishGirlEEnglishGirl Posts: 1,825
    edited 11/10/2014 - 4:58 PM
    I have a lot of different things wrong with my spine & I've had a lot of time to think about my different pains...what makes them better or worse & investigating where they're coming from. I recently had a SI joint shot. It took him well over an hour messing around with different needles trying to get past all the bone spurs & into the right place. Just laying on my stomach for that long was agony! As soon as he injected the first diagnostic numbing shot I could feel a pain in the 'dip' between my spine & hip (quite low) vanish along with one of my familiar hip & thigh pains. It was the pretty deep kind of pain, not the high, electrical pain that zaps lower down my leg. What I'm saying is I could really tell that it took away 1 of my pains. It didn't lower my pain scale. Reduce my over-all pain. It erased a certain pain. The process of laying there increased other pains but 'that' particular pain was gone. I don't know if it's the same for everybody with SI joint problems. Maybe I obsess on my pains more than most. I don't know but I now know what pain is caused by my SI joint & how much difference it would make to my life (not a lot) to have that pain permanently removed...the best possible result of surgery.

    That's what I thought when I read your post. I'm not sure that your SI is causing enough of your different pains to be the priority. What other diagnostic tests have you had? I have an MRI at least once a year, more if things feel very different. I've got a lot of damage in my spine. I don't know how often insurance companies are willing to pay for them. You don't seem at all confident in your surgeon. Maybe it's time for a second opinion?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • roseanns823rroseanns823 Posts: 2
    edited 11/13/2014 - 4:09 AM
    I did go forward with the second bi-lateral SI injection on 11-11-14, The procedure usually only takes this surgeon 15 minutes to do, he did the left side first and the numbing shot before was what gave instant relief "before the actual injection" he then proceeded to the right side SI and I felt him hit my bone with the needle at first, (he even said oh I hit your bone!) They want to know your immediate pain level right after they numb your areas and do the injections, I had gone from a 8 pain level to some relief on the left side and no relief on the right at all, the nurse asks as soon as you get from injection to recovery area what is your pain level right now, well I have just been given numbing medication by needle first n then he proceeded with the actual injections, the normal, but if they could create an injection as the one as the numbing injection before the procedure that actually was the medication that could be a huge help in relieving the pain, after 2 hours the numbing medication is worn off and that pain is right back again, I did feel less pain on the left side after for first 6 hours but no relief on right at all, back to the burning in the legs back and buttock areas by 8 hours later. I have asked for an MRI since the last one was in 2012 before the 2nd surgery, he always just does an X-Ray every 3-4 months at follow up visits, that as you know having spine pain there is not much you can see in an X-Ray but the rods and the area around the rods, I have called my insurance company up to yesterday and surgeons office still had not submitted the MRI request, when I called the person that oversee;s the request she at first told me it takes a few days to submit and then for a reply that was 4 days after he requested the MRI to be done and he is only looking at the cervical and pelvis area according to conversation with her again yesterday, when I called yesterday to offer the website my insurance company gave me to give her to send the request she was rude and very unprofessional, she said I informed you the other day I cannot submit the claim without clinical notes to back the reason for the MRI up it will just get denied, I explained we have been using SI Injections as well as all pain management he advised me to go through these last 2 years, she said are you actively in PT with our facility, no I am not, I haven't been since 2013, she said well its pointless to even request an MRI if you haven't had PT this last year at all, they will deny the request without it, I know this is not the case, I told her to speak to my spine surgeon and get his notes ASAP and submit the MRI, she told me she would not see him until Friday, I said well he is here everyday, make the time to get the clinical notes you need from him he requested this MRI on the 6th its now the 12th, you should have had these notes way before this point, I will be calling to speak to him myself about the hold up on the MRI request, I have great insurance right now have met my out of pocket for the year and all would be paid 100% for any procedure going forward if they get on the ball if we decided the SI Fusion was in my best interest to have the surgery I would like to have it done before the end of the year.
    I did see my other Ortho specialist there yesterday for my right arm MRI results that he managed to request and I had them done in 3 days with no PT at their office, after his review of them he feels surgery could help gain some use of my right arm and hand again, but he feels based on all my other area's of issues and tests he did yesterday it could be more then just the elbow, from his tests he came to the conclusion he thinks it could be coming from my neck and upper back with the numbing and tingling in both hands and arms, before he jumps the gun he is doing the proper channels of having me get a nerve test done from a neurologist for a second opinion, GREAT IDEA and he seems more detailed and wants to cover all bases before doing yet another surgery when it could be more, which he feels it is, too bad the same Ortho in Spine area is not as detailed and concerned to find the root cause before "lets do surgery again". So at this point still waiting on call from neurologist which they are pretty quick to call and have the nerve testing done in areas of the elbow arm & hand and I feel confident in him, unfortunately I cannot say the same for my Spine surgeon, they are all in one practice in same building, If I could go back to my very first surgeon from 2004 through 2010 I would be thrilled but he had an accident which caused him to be diagnosed with seizure disorder and therefore obviously could no longer be a surgeon, I miss him greatly! There are not a lot of other Ortho Surgeons in my town, the one I now go to has taken over the town and cut a lot of the other practices out of business with their broad spectrum facility. I guess until then I wait and continue to follow up and stay on the lady in charge of requesting the MRI, which after the nerve test is done by other Dr the other Ortho surgeon said he wanted to get a MRI request of the neck as well, he feels after his exam there is a lot more going on then the SI and elbow that its a broad spectrum, he actually said I feel this is your case and if I am correct I would not want to be you, its not something anyone wants to hear, but he was sincere and helpful, Hopefully I will be reporting back with better news in the next few weeks. Hope you feel better, I know the intense pain on a daily basis, it is not in your head and its real, wish you all the best. Good Luck to you going forward.
  • EnglishGirlEEnglishGirl Posts: 1,825
    edited 11/13/2014 - 6:12 AM
    Ugh! You are in a pickle. A certain PM doc has a monopoly in my area. I'm lucky mine would take me when I moved here. Without him I wouldn't have a lot of PM choices.
    Am I understanding right? The numbing shots BEFORE they injected the diagnostic numbing shot & steroids really helped? Maybe trigger point injections could help. They can do lidocaine (like they use to numb for the injections) with some steroids or they can use Botox (with steroids) for me Botox lasts longer. They can do them into any spasming muscles. If those first numbing shots help you could be getting a lot of pain from spasms around there. I do! Trigger point shots really help some & don't do much for others. They're the 'simplest' of all the shots, no guidance needed. I have them done & ice straight after. They allow me to stretch & control that pain.

    It's my understanding that lumbar MRIs don't usually show SI problems. I've been told a scan of SI is better. I'm by no means an expert. I'm just saying what I've been told by my specialists.

    I do physical therapy at home. It's been a number of years before I've been prescribed a course. I've seen my PT a couple of times but I don't think he charged me. I've never had any problems having my insurance pay for MRIs. I had 3 in one year once! I don't understand what the problem is.
    My friend recently had her 3rd fusion. She had 2 MRIs, scans, various nerve tests etc to make certain they had identified the correct pain generator. Before surgery I'd want to be really sure!!
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
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