Hollie | SI-BONE | SI-BONE

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Hollie Johnson photos

Hollie's Story

Stourbridge, West Midlands
Back Story
SI Joint Trauma
iFuse Implant Procedure Date
July 2017
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My problems began in January 2011 when I had an accident while travelling in South Africa. I was on a sabbatical from my job as a beautician on a cruise ship line. I slipped and fell in the apartment where I was staying. I hit my back and bottom on the corner of a wall. I landed on the floor on my back. Shortly after that, I left to come home. I didn’t have any signs of any permanent damage. I was a bit shaken at the time, but I didn’t think much of it. I got on a flight and carried my own suitcases. At the time it felt a bit sore. I thought maybe I had pulled a muscle.

In June 2011, my life totally changed. I was in bed asleep on my stomach, and I woke up with the most extreme stabbing pain like a hot knife going through my skin into my back, to the same area of my left buttock where I hit the wall. I managed to roll over; I tried to sit up in bed, but I couldn’t. I was very scared because I was there alone. I couldn’t put my left leg to the floor at all and when I tried, the pain shot up from my pelvis. I called 111, and was advised I must have pulled a muscle, and told to rest and take some Ibuprofen. I tried to return to work after a few days but sitting down was excruciating.

I began an all-consuming, six-year quest for a treatment that would get my health back to normal. I started off with advice from my GP to rest and use ice, and then heat packs, paracetamol, and Ibuprofen. That didn’t work and I went onto codeine. When that didn’t relieve the pain, I started on strong opiate drugs like tramadol and morphine: Oramorph and Zomorph. I was taking gabapentin and Lyrica to treat nerve pain. I went to see a physical therapist who gave me graded exercise therapy, involving stretching bands. I had already been told I have a condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a disorder of the connective tissues. It means that my joints are more flexible than normal, so I found the exercises easy to do, but they did nothing to relieve my pain. I didn’t have a life. The pain was unbearable. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t drive, and I walked on crutches. I couldn’t go out and see friends.

I saw a lot of consultants during those years, and they tried lots of ways to treat me. These included injections into my piriformis muscle, and a caudal epidural steroid injection into my lower spine to reduce pain and inflammation. I also had some denervation treatment to deaden the nerves – but it didn’t help me. Initially, it did work a little, but the nerves grew back, and it wasn’t very effective.

I discovered what was wrong due to a conversation I had with one of my physios who said I had a condition similar to Piriformis Syndrome, which is where the sciatic nerve is compressed by the Piriformis muscle, causing buttock pain. It’s usually a runner’s problem, but it can also be secondary to sacroiliac joint dysfunction. I started looking into what the sacroiliac joint was and researching it myself.

"My SI joint implants changed my life for the better."

I found a surgeon who was an expert in SI joint dysfunction and went to see him privately. He gave me an injection in the SI Joint itself with some steroids and local anesthetic. As soon as that anesthetic went in, it was total bliss, all the pain had gone. He diagnosed me with SI joint dysfunction based on my response to the injection and the way I sat in his office on my right hip bone, unable to put weight on the left buttock.

I went back to the GP with the diagnosis and quickly started researching a permanent treatment on the NHS. Eventually, I found the name of a surgeon who offered surgery in England on the NHS. I met with her in in January 2017. She did an MRI scan to check my SI joint and rule out other possible causes and she cleared me for SI joint surgery. My surgery took place in July 2017.

I remember going in at 12 pm and coming around and having my tea at 4.30pm. I immediately felt bloody amazing! Which is an odd thing to say when you’ve just had an operation, but straight away, I knew. It was weird that I wasn’t in pain. I was sitting up in bed on two bottom cheeks, normally, and I didn’t feel any pain at all. Pain had become my norm, to not feel it there, I can only liken it to what euphoria could feel like. I have learned what’s important in life. I have learned that you need to be your own advocate and never stop fighting or give up on your health.

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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