Fifteen to 25 percent of lower back pain can be attributed to the sacroiliac (SI) joint, which connects the pelvic bone to the spine. Issues with the SI joint are sometimes treated with physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, or medical injections, but these options are only temporary and must be repeated for ongoing relief.
Sacroiliac (SI) Fusion surgery offers a long-term solution. First performed in West Michigan in spring 2012 by Jürgen Lüders, MD, director of Neurosurgery at the Saint Mary’s Hauenstein Neuroscience Center, sacroiliac joint fusion surgery has already helped nearly a dozen people in the area.
One of those helped is Alberta Hoekwater, 77, suffers from back pain secondary to her SI joints, which has caused her SI joint to deteriorate. After three years of suffering and seeking various treatments, Alberta got a second opinion from The Hauenstein Center. She underwent her first surgery on July 5, 2012 for one side, and two months later, Lüders performed surgery on the other side.
“I could tell a difference, as the pain was gone on the first side I had surgery on,” Alberta says. “That’s why I agreed right away to surgery on the second side, because I could tell the immediate results.”
Through a single two-inch incision, Lüders inserted two to three titanium implants to connect the spine and pelvic bone, minimizing soft tissue damage as compared to an open surgery. The surgery lasted about an hour, and patients typically go home from the hospital the next day. Since her surgery, The Hauenstein Neuroscience Center physical therapy team has worked with Alberta to get her to bear full weight by six weeks, which is faster than average for patients who receive this surgery.
“I had been walking with a walker; couldn’t get anywhere without it before,” Alberta says. “After healing from my second surgery, my goal is to be able to not use it at all. I’m hoping to be able to sit in the bleachers when I attend my grandkids’ sports games!”
Within a few months, SI Fusion surgical patients experience a return to normal activity, which for Alberta, has been several years in the waiting.
Facts about Sacroiliac Joint Pain and Treatment Options:
- Symptoms of SI joint pain are trouble sleeping, knees giving way, or acute pain when bending or moving in certain directions.
- Fifteen to 25 percent of lower back pain can be attributed to the sacroiliac (SI) joint, which connects the pelvic bone to the spine.
- Issues with the SI joint are sometimes treated with physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments or medical injections, but these options are only temporary and must be repeated for ongoing relief.
- Repetitive motion, injury from accidents and falling, and even pregnancy, may cause damage to this joint.
- The diagnosing procedure for SI Joint Fusion surgery is an X-ray pain-relieving injection to the SI joint; if a person experiences significant pain relief from it, this will verify SI joint pain.
Source: Saint Mary's Health Care Photo: Jürgen Lüders, MD provided by Saint Mary's Health Care