Written By Mustafa Syed | Edited By: Mel Quist

Have you been experiencing long-term lower back/buttocks pain with weight-related leg buckling? Has this pain persisted even after physical therapy, medication, and injection therapy? If non-surgical treatment options have not been effective, now may be a good time to speak to a specialist at Insight Neurosurgery about relieving consistent pain with a minimally invasive sacroiliac joint fusion.

The sacroiliac (SI) joints are responsible for connecting the base of the spine to the hip bones, facilitating balance and support during walking and lifting. Falls, pregnancy, uneven movements, arthritis complications, and a variety of other conditions can lead to SI joint pain. Fortunately, many non-surgical treatment options, including physical therapy, oral medications, and injection therapy, are often effective in managing symptoms. However, for those with persistent pain who have exhausted conservative treatments, minimally invasive SI joint fusions have proven to be an effective next step. 

What is sacroiliac joint fusion?
Sacroiliac joint fusion is recommended after several non-surgical treatment plans fail to relieve SI joint pain, including pain that intensifies when walking, sleeping, sitting, and standing. This procedure is a minimally invasive surgery that involves inserting titanium implants across the SI joints to provide stability.  

How is sacroiliac joint pain diagnosed?
In order to diagnose sacroiliac joint pain, a doctor will use a physical exam to monitor how the SI joints move and moments of pain. Imaging tests, such as x-rays, MRIs and CT scans, will also be used to identify SI joint problems. Before recommending the procedure, the doctor will study your medical history to determine if you are an ideal SI joint fusion candidate. 

What happens in surgery?
Under general anesthesia, a small 2-3 cm incision is made on the side of the buttock in the lower back. A small hole will be drilled toward the SI joint and cleared of ligaments and muscles. Bone grafts or implants will then be inserted across the SI joints. Following the procedure, the wound is stitched and you will remain in the hospital for two to three days. SI joint fusion recovery is accompanied by non-treatment options, such as medication and physical therapy. 

What to expect after surgery
Pain and most other symptoms will alleviate with time, so the resumption of daily routines will be delayed. In some cases, the recovery process could take up to six months after the procedure in order for the bone to fully fuse. 

Is sacroiliac joint fusion effective?
A recent research study indicates that 90 percent of patients who have had a minimally invasive sacroiliac joint fusion surgery were clinically improved and satisfied with the outcome five years after the procedure. The authors further indicate that because the procedure is minimally invasive, it is more efficient due to the reduced surgery time, lower levels of blood loss, and the faster recovery process compared to alternatives.  

Who should not consider sacroiliac joint fusion?
Sacroiliac joint fusion is an effective and efficient minimally invasive solution for many people with SI joint pain. However, it is not recommended for everyone. The following are a few reasons SI joint fusion may not be right for you:

  • If you have deformities
  • If you have a previous failed fusion
  • If you are intolerant to the implant instruments

The one guaranteed option for finally relieving your pain is to visit one of our sacroiliac joint fusion specialists at Insight Neurosurgery. Contact us today at 810-732-8336 to learn more and schedule an appointment.