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I feel that after 11 years, I finally can resume my normal life.
I was injured in April of 2006. I was working for the US postal service and was emptying a large bin of mail. I was up on my tip toes bending over the bin reaching for a large bundle of magazines at the very bottom. I felt a pulling sensation on the right side of my lower back, but assumed It was a just a strained muscle. Over the next week my back pain increased and I developed pain in my right groin. It felt like a buzzing sensation. My sister-in-law worked in an orthopedic surgeon’s office and set me up with a consultation with one of their physicians. He did a physical exam, took x-rays and gave me a prescription for physical therapy. The physical therapy was not helpful, so I returned to the orthopedic surgeon. I was sent for an MRI and was given the diagnosis of spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis. I was referred to a pain management physician and received 3 lumbar epidural steroid injections, narcotic pain medication, and a discogram. The epidural steroid injections gave me minimal relief. I was still having major low back and severe groin pain. I called the pain in my groin the “jolts”. It was the kind of pain that would stop you in your tracks.
In January of 2007 I had a two-level lumbar fusion. I went to physical therapy for 6 months and wore a back brace. My pain symptoms remained the same after my fusion surgery. I continued with pain management, physical therapy, and narcotic pain medication. I went back to limited duty at the post office working 20 hours a week. I never really had any improvement in my symptoms. In 2010, I had another MRI which indicated the levels above and below my fusion needed repair. I underwent a multi-level revision lumbar fusion which added additional hardware to my back. Following the surgery, I was still in considerable pain. I was unable to return to my job. The groin pain and “the jolts” would not subside. It became more difficult to walk and I had to use a wheelchair when shopping and in the airport. I really had to plan ahead if anything required me to walk. I felt like the pain was affecting my whole life. I finally decided it was time to see a different pain management physician for another opinion. He suggested we try an SI joint injection. I had one injection and it was like magic! I still was taking Vicodin and oxycontin daily. I tried to wean myself off the oxycontin and it was very difficult. I continued with the SI joint injections every 3 months for the next several years.
When the injections became less effective, my pain management physician suggested I consult with a surgeon regarding the iFuse Procedure(SM). I agreed to the consultation, and it was determined that I would be a good candidate for the procedure. I was unsure if I wanted to undergo another surgical procedure. In June of 2015, I agreed to the surgery. A few days prior to my procedure, I was contacted by the board of labor stating the procedure was considered experimental and the surgery was denied. I went through the appeals process with the help of my surgeon’s office. My surgeon suggested a peer-to-peer review and they refused. I was sent to a “hand specialist” for an independent review and the procedure was denied again. I requested that my case manager send me for another independent review, this time to an orthopedic back specialist. They agreed and my procedure was finally approved!
In May of 2016, I underwent a right SI joint fusion utilizing the iFuse Implant System®. After surgery, I used a walker for 4 weeks and then a cane. I did aqua therapy and attended physical therapy for 12 weeks. My recovery was slow but steady. I stopped taking all pain medications by 6 months and felt like I had finally turned the corner. I continue to walk and to increase my activities. For the first time since 2007, I can walk on the beach!
The SI BuddySM program is reserved for patients who have been diagnosed by a trained surgeon and recommended for the iFuse procedure. SI Buddy volunteers have been successfully treated with the iFuse Implant System®. They are not medical professionals and their statements should not be interpreted as medical advice.
The iFuse Implant System is intended for sacroiliac fusion for conditions including sacroiliac joint dysfunction that is a direct result of sacroiliac joint disruption and degenerative sacroiliitis. This includes conditions whose symptoms began during pregnancy or in the peripartum period and have persisted postpartum for more than 6 months. It may not be appropriate for all patients and all patients may not benefit. For information about the risks, visit: www.si-bone.com/risks.