We all experience lower back pain. But did you know that in nearly 20% of all cases of lower back pain, the sacroiliac joint (SI) is the cause? Pain caused by the SI joint is can lead to pain in your lower back, pelvic region, buttocks, and legs.
Joint Stabilization Surgery
Joint stabilization surgery is a non-invasive procedure used to stabilize your sacroiliac joint and provide fusion. In the past, SI joint fusion involved hours of open surgery and a large incision to access your joint. A large amount of cortical tissue would be removed, and bone grafts from other parts of your body would help fuse your joint. Then you would have to stay several days in the hospital and go through an extended recovery period. Now there is an alternative Because the joint stabilization surgery is not open and invasive, it will offer maximum protection to your surrounding tissues, leading to less tissue damage and a faster recovery.
The Sacroiliac Joint
Like any other joint in your body, your SI joint can become arthritic. The ligaments that support your SI joint can also become loose or injured; this leads to pain in your buttock and lower back region.
Symptoms of SI Pain
You will feel pain in your SI region more when you are doing physical activities like running, walking, bearing weight during exercise and even sleeping on a certain side of your body. Trouble sleeping, experiencing weakness in your legs, lower extremity pain while lying down in certain positions, pain in your hip or groin, and tenderness in your buttocks can point to the possibility of the presence of an SI joint disorder.
Pre-Op for Joint Stabilization Surgery
To prepare for your surgery, you will need to undergo several exams to ensure your health is good enough before surgery. These tests include:
- Blood Tests
- Chest X-Ray
- Health History
- Physical Exam
Make sure you let your doctor know about all the medications and supplements you are taking. These include over-the-counter medications. Some medications should be stopped or continued the day of your surgery.Alcohol and blood-thinning medications should be stopped two weeks before your surgery, and avoided for two weeks after your surgery because they can cause bleeding problems.
- Anti-Inflammatory Medication
- Blood Thinners
- Fish Oil
- Vitamin E
- Wintergreen Snuff
The most important thing you can do for yourself and your body before surgery is quit smoking or consuming tobacco products. Nicotine prevents bone growth and decreases your circulation, resulting in slower wound healing and an increased risk of infection.
Minimally invasive joint stabilization surgery is done on an outpatient basis, meaning that you will receive medical treatment without having to be admitted to a hospital. Your doctor will make several small incisions in the area as needed, and a laparoscope is inserted. A laparoscope is a long tube with a camera and light on the end. Your doctor or surgeon will perform the entire surgery through the tube, using special instruments and navigating his or her way through your SI joint area with the help of the camera at the end of the laparoscope. Your surgeon will use a guide pin to place titanium implants across your sacroiliac joint. These small implants are designed to correct and stabilize your SI joint.
Risks and Benefits of Joint Stabilization Surgery
Joint stabilization surgery allows you to free yourself from your lower back pain without being admitted to a hospital for costly, time-consuming, potentially risky surgery. Because you are not being “put under” during non-invasive joint stabilization surgery, your chances of experiencing risks and complications significantly decrease.
- Heart Attack
- Postoperative Confusion
- Unintended Intraoperative Awareness (1-2 people in every 10,000 experience this)
In addition to this decline in risk, your recovery time (both in the hospital and at home) is significantly reduced. This quick recovery time saves you both time and money– staying overnight in the hospital can be costly, not to mention all the time you’ll waste if you have to miss out on work (or life) during the extensive recovery required during open joint stabilization surgery.
Joint Stabilization Surgery as a Permanent Solution
Spinal fusion is only performed for the right reasons, and when all other treatments have been explored. It is not a permanent “fix” for your back problem or pain relief. Joint stabilization surgery stops the motion in the painful area of your spine, which allows for you to have increased function and a more reasonable lifestyle (not necessarily one that is pain-free). Back pain responds the most to physical therapy and exercise. Make sure you have done all you can to get successfully rehabilitated before you consider surgery.
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