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Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Fusion

Patients suffering from sacroiliac joint pain are all too familiar with the miserable lower back, hip, groin, and leg symptoms that make everyday function difficult. In some cases, sacroiliac-mediated pain can be treated conservatively with rest and self-care, icing, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory or pain medications, and pelvic bracing. When non-surgical treatments prove ineffective and quality of life is drastically impacted by daily SI pain, Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine surgeons may recommend sacroiliac joint fusion surgery.

About Sacroiliac Anatomy & Pain Causes

The triangular bone below the lumbar (lower) spine is called the sacrum. While most of the spinal vertebrae move, the sacrum is comprised of five immovable vertebrae. The two large bones forming the pelvis are called the iliac bones. The sacroiliac (SI) joints are the connectors for the sacrum and iliac bones. Unlike most other joints in the body, the sacroiliac joints move very little. Instead, they serve as stabilizers and shock absorbers between the upper and lower body, as well as supporting the weight of the torso during standing. These tasks impose a great deal of stress on the SI joints, so it is relatively common for arthritis to form as joint cartilage wears.

In addition to arthritis, sacroiliac joint pain may also be caused by joint inflammation, hypermobility, hypomobility, gait issues, pregnancy, or injury. This SI joint dysfunction or degeneration leads to a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Significant lower back pain
  • Pelvic, groin & hip pain
  • Pelvic & low back instability
  • Increased pain from standing to sitting
  • Exacerbated pain after standing or sitting too long
  • Numbness or tingling in the hip & leg
  • Pain radiating into the thigh
  • Hip & leg weakness

What is SI Joint Fusion Surgery?

Surgery is a last resort treatment for sacroiliac pain and dysfunction. However, when conservative treatments fail to bring SI joint pain relief and quality of life is impacted to a significant degree, our NJ neurosurgeons may recommend minimally invasive SI joint fusion surgery. During the fusion procedure, surgeons use screws, rods, or bone grafts to fuse the ilium and sacrum and eliminate joint motion.

Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine uses a minimally invasive surgical method for sacroiliac joint fusion. Traditional (open surgical) SI fusion takes far longer to heal and leads to higher complication rates. During the minimally invasive procedure, your physician will make a small incision in the side of the buttock and move the gluteal muscles to reveal the ilium. Using precision surgical tools and fluoroscopy imaging to guide the procedure, surgeons insert the instruments or the bone graft that will heal to fuse the pelvis and lower spine. The incision is closed and sutured, and recovery times are notably less than open surgery requires.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive SI Joint Fusion Surgery

Joint fusion is often useful in reducing pain and symptoms caused by SI joint inflammation or dysfunction. Benefits of our NJ minimally invasive SI fusion procedure include:

  • Small incisions
  • Minimal tissue displacement
  • Short operating time
  • Faster healing
  • Minimal blood loss
  • Improved joint stability & pain relief

Risks of SI Joint Fusion Surgery

While sacroiliac surgery has a high rate of success, there are risks. The primary risk is that the minimally invasive fusion does not alleviate pain and related symptoms or that the joint will not fuse. In rare cases, fusing the sacroiliac joint transfers pressure to other areas of the pelvis or spine, creating pain that did not exist before (adjacent segment disease).

At Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine, we have excellent outcomes with sacroiliac joint fusion, and we take care to ensure you are an ideal candidate for the procedure before recommending this surgical option.

Trust Our PA & NJ Sacroiliac Fusion Specialists

At Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine, our award-winning neurosurgeons have a successful track record of providing leading non-surgical and minimally invasive interventions for SI joint dysfunction and degeneration. If low back pain is limiting your activities and quality of life, call 609.921.9001 in New Jersey or 215.741.3141 in Pennsylvania. PBSSM is pleased to provide evaluations, imaging, and diagnosis of SI joint pain and other spine disorders.

Caring for you as we would a member of our own family, PBSSM delivers compassionate, skilled care for all types of back pain and spine degeneration. Contact us today to schedule a first or second opinion for back and hip pain treatment.

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