Claire | SI-BONE | SI-BONE

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Claire's Story

Warton, West Midlands
Back Story
SI Joint Degeneration
iFuse Implant Procedure Date
August 2017 left side, February 2018 right side.
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In December 2012, I was doing a high intensity DVD exercise routine in my living room. Suddenly I felt complete agony. It felt like I’d been kicked, or someone had thrown something at me. Every time I tried to move, I was in enormous pain, so I lay still on the floor and waited for it to pass. I laid there for several hours before I was eventually able to haul myself onto the couch. I went to my GP, who referred me to a specialist, and I was offered an MRI scan which showed I had three slipped discs in my lower back. One of the discs had impinged on a nerve. That was the worst pain. It felt like sciatica, as if ice cold water was running down my left leg.

I was taking the strongest painkillers you can get on prescription. I felt spaced out and weirdly disconnected. I couldn’t sleep at night because every time I moved, I would be in agony. I gave up working in 2013 because I couldn’t cope with the constant pain and lack of sleep. Gradually I realized I needed surgery and in March 2013, I underwent an operation called a decompression laminectomy.

In 2014, I had a lumbar fusion surgery to address some of my slipped discs, which involved going in through my stomach. The surgery didn’t work and immediately afterwards I felt “broken.” It was like I had another layer of surgical pain added to the pain of the injury.

We moved up north so I could be near my mum. I relied on her to help me. I was taking all kinds of painkillers including very strong tablets used to control cancer pain, and morphine patches. I needed help at home just to function normally. I couldn’t sit on the toilet, it was difficult to get out of the bath, I couldn’t work, and I wasn’t able to be independent. I had drop foot, and I felt numb in my legs and didn’t feel steady. I felt isolated, and my world shrank.

"I severely injured my back doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) exercises at home, and spent years in agony, but an implant, specially designed to fuse the SI joint, which was recently recommend by NICE for use in the NHS, got me back on my feet."

I was constantly searching for new research and treatments to help lower back pain. My paternal aunt belongs to a group of patients who suffer with back pain, one of whom had recommended a spinal consultant in North London. He saw me privately for an assessment and did another MRI. Initially he thought he might be able to “redo” the fusion. However, when I went back to see him, this time on the NHS, I decided that would be too devastating. The risks associated with that type of surgery were too high.

He did some other investigations to find where my pain was coming from, and he injected my SI joint with some numbing medication and steroids, a temporary solution that immediately helped. From this, my surgeon diagnosed me with Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction.

A new treatment for chronic sacroiliac joint dysfunction has been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). It’s called the iFuse Implant System and includes triangular titanium implants designed to immediately stabilize and eventually fuse the joint, preventing joint motion and often relieving the pain.

He told me I needed bilateral SI joint fusions, but he could only operate on one side at a time. My left side was worse, so he did that side first, in August 2017. I felt so afraid because of how poorly I did after my last spinal fusion surgery. But immediately after coming round after the first iFuse operation, I felt better. I could sit and lie down without pain for the first time in years, and I had expected more pain initially as my back recovered.

By the time of the second surgery, in February 2018, I was pretty much off all the opiate medication. I was only taking paracetamol. Now I am pretty much back to normal. I can go to work again, I have studied for a further qualification, I see friends, and do normal daily activities like dog walks, and attend Pilates classes, which has helped me.

2021 update: I walk most days and in the last 6 months have managed to climb 3 mountains including Snowdonia (via Crib Goch). Keep moving is my motto.

The SI Buddy® program is reserved for patients who have been diagnosed by a trained surgeon and recommended for the iFuse procedure. SI Buddy volunteers have been successfully treated with the iFuse Implant System®. Although many patients have benefited from treatment with the iFuse Implant System, patients' results may vary. SI Buddies are not medical professionals and their statements should not be interpreted as medical advice.

The iFuse Implant System® is intended for sacroiliac joint fusion including use in high and low energy fractures of the pelvic ring.

There are potential risks associated with the iFuse Implant System. It may not be appropriate for all patients and all patients may not benefit. For information about the risks, talk to your doctor and visit: Risks page. Rx Only.

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