Our Minimally Invasive SI Joint Stabilization Procedure May Be Right for You

You probably don’t spend much time thinking about your sacroiliac (SI) joints. However, these joints have an important job. They connect the lowest part of your spine, or sacrum, to your pelvis. And, like other joints in your body, you can develop significant pain in this area from inflammation or improper joint movement.

At Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon, Vladimir Fiks, MD, and our team specialize in interdisciplinary therapies and interventional techniques to address painful conditions, including SI joint issues. Dr. Fiks offers these insights about minimally invasive SI joint fusion procedures and when to consider this form of treatment.

Recognizing SI joint problems

You have an SI joint on each side of your sacrum that attaches to your pelvis’ large upper bones, or ilium. The SI joints function primarily as shock absorbers to protect your spine from impact. 

When healthy, your SI joints move very little, and it’s unlikely that you even notice they’re doing their job. However, when ligaments supporting these joints loosen, or you experience the degenerative effects of arthritis, SI joint dysfunction can develop. This type of pain often starts in the lower back or buttocks, but it can quickly spread to nearby muscles and cause them to spasm.

Anywhere between 15-30% of lower back pain originates in the SI joints, but it’s often misdiagnosed as a herniated disc. In patients with prior lumbar fusion the incidence of SI joint pain could be as high as 60%. Fortunately, minimally invasive SI joint fusion can help resolve these symptoms by increasing stability to these joints.

How SI joint fusion works

During sacroiliac joint fusion, Dr. Fiks stabilizes your SI joints by fusing one or both sides of your sacrum to your ilium. This minimally invasive treatment usually involves two small incisions in your lower back. Then, Dr. Fiks inserts special instruments to remove the damaged cartilage and place screws, pins, or a bone graft to stabilize the problematic joint or joints. 

The entire procedure typically takes approximately one hour and comes with few risks of complications. You can usually begin walking within a few hours and resume nonstrenuous activities or work within about two weeks.

You can usually expect your symptoms to start subsiding within a few weeks of your procedure, but complete recovery from SI joint fusion can take up to six months.

When to consider SI joint fusion

SI joint fusion can offer significant relief from sacroiliac joint dysfunction. However, Dr. Fiks typically recommends this procedure after other nonsurgical treatments fail. 

You may be a good candidate for SI joint fusion stabilization if you have:

To see if you're a candidate, Dr. Fiks will perform a comprehensive exam and diagnostic testing to confirm that SI joint fusion can address the cause of your symptoms.

To learn more about SI joint stabilization and to see if it may be able to help you, book an appointment over the phone with Advanced Pain Management Center today.

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