3 FAQ About SI Joint Fusion

The joint that connects the pelvis to the lower spine is called the sacroiliac joint, or SI joint. This important joint transfers weight between the upper body and legs, which helps give the ability to stand. A person who experiences chronic lower back pain might be having problems with this particular joint. A spine surgery called SI joint fusion is a common treatment option for an injured SI joint. 

To help you learn more, here are the answers to three frequently asked questions about SI joint fusion.

1. When Is SI Joint Fusion Necessary?

Possible causes of an SI joint injury include falls, work injuries, and car accidents. Pregnancy or being overweight can also cause extra stress on the SI joint. Arthritis, leg gait abnormalities, and traumatic births can cause SI joint pain.

Besides chronic or severe lower back pain, some symptoms of SI joint dysfunction that indicate this type of spine surgery is necessary to include:

  • Pain that has spread from the lower back to the groin or buttocks
  • Numbness or tingling in the leg
  • Interference with walking, sitting, or sleeping

Those who have tried physical therapy or injection therapy to alleviate these symptoms may want to consider SI joint fusion.

2. What Is Involved with SI Joint Fusion?

A neurosurgeon usually performs SI joint fusion. This minimally invasive spine surgery requires only a small incision in the buttocks. The surgeon drills holes into the sacrum, located at the base of the spine, and also the ilium, the largest part of the hip bone. The surgeon then places a titanium implant into the holes.

The implant helps to stabilize the SI joint and increase the ability to bear weight. The patient receiving this spine surgery will require the use of crutches or a walker afterward. These walking devices are needed until the function has been fully restored to the SI joint.

3. What Is Recovery Like After SI Joint Fusion?

It normally takes patients up to six months to fully recover from SI joint fusion. One of the most important parts of the recovery process is to not reinjure the SI joint. Patients that engage in regular exercises, maintain a healthy weight, and set up a workstation that is ergonomically correct have the best chances of preventing a recurrence of an SI joint injury.

Following surgery, patients will need physical therapy to rehabilitate the SI joint. Physical therapy usually includes stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as water therapy. Contact someone like Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, P.C. for more details.