Most people don’t know about sacroiliac joints until they visit a pain clinic concerning this issue. When it’s damaged, this joint, connecting the base of your spine to your pelvis, results in severe pain radiating down through the leg. Sacroiliac joint fusion is the primary procedure to provide relief for sacroiliac pain.

What is SI joint Fusion?

Sacroiliac joint fusion is a minimally invasive procedure that deals with a small incision, which can be two inches long or more. Titanium implants are inserted across the sacroiliac joint to offer stability.

The procedure is usually less than an hour, and it’s often conducted in an outpatient setting. Most patients typically regain their feet within a few weeks. Si joint fusion is a “definitive treatment” for sufferers of the condition and won’t impact their range of motion.

Sacroiliac joint fusion surgery is recommended to treat sacroiliac joint pain when nonsurgical treatments don’t prosper.  

In a SI fusion surgery, one or both sides of the sacrum are transplanted to the ilium to promote bone growth across the joint. Fusion begins during the healing process after the surgery and is possible through implanted instrumentation and/or a bone graft.

Pain Management after the SI Joint Fusion

Sacroiliac pain management can be very debilitating for patients. Since the bone fuses during the healing stage after the surgery, you may expect constant pain and other symptoms that will typically begin to alleviate after several weeks. The entire recovery process for SI joint fusion can last up to 6 months.

Most patients who experience minimally invasive fusion surgery usually leave the hospital the following day. The patients receive prescriptions, including

  • A walker or cane to avoid stressing the sacroiliac joint as it fuses.

  • A sacral belt (a pelvic brace) that you can wear to balance the joint and decrease motions to increase pain and reduce the healing process.

  • Pain medications that reduce post-operative pain and sensitivity usually include over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen. Patients may also receive prescription painkillers such as opioids.

  • Applying heat and ice therapy during healing can reduce pain after the procedure.

  • Using ice therapy on your lower back and buttock around the surgical site can relieve inflammation, a primary precursor to pain.

  • Heat emitting from a heating pad or adhesive heat wrap can relieve muscle tension and spasms that result from the fusion.

What to Expect After SI Joint Fusion?

The role of post-surgical physical therapy is to improve the functioning of the low back and pelvis less intensively to reduce pain. It also ensures effective sacroiliac pain management. Most surgeons recommend physical therapy, and it usually involves.

  • Passive range of motion stretches.
  • Stretching exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Aerobic exercises

Bottom line

SI Joint fusion recovery takes some time. Patients are required to use support systems such as a cane or walker for about four weeks. Si joint fusion recovery may take longer, depending on the type of surgery you undergo and the intensity of physical therapy.