Sophia's story

    SI Joint Pain

If Sophia moved the wrong way, she screamed. Then she cried.

"The pain, I couldn't get rid of it," Sophia says. "I was in so much pain I couldn't do anything. I couldn't unload the dishwasher. The pain was taking my life away from me."

Sophia's son, Gary, came over one day to find his mother on her knees, her head resting on a chair, desperately trying to find a comfortable position for her lower back. "She was totally debilitated," he says.

Three times in a period of two weeks he took her to the emergency room, where she was given a shot of Demerol. The shot lasted a day, sometimes less.

Finally, Sophia was referred to William Tobler, MD, a specialist with Mayfield Brain & Spine. His immediate task was to eliminate the worst of Sophia's pain, while his longer-term goal was to figure out exactly what was causing it.

Dr. Tobler began by referring Sophia to Marc Orlando, MD, a Mayfield physical medicine & rehabilitation specialist. Dr. Orlando started her on a conservative regimen that began with an epidural steroid injection. Over the next year, Sophia had additional injections in the epidural space, the facet joints, and the sacroiliac (SI) joint.

"By a process of elimination, we began to think about the SI joint," Dr. Tobler says. "She had SI injections, and those by far and away gave her the most relief."

Diagnosing SI joint degeneration can be tricky because an MRI is unlikely to show any abnormality. "The pain is greatest when the patient is sitting or leaning forward," Dr. Tobler says. "The ultimate goal is fixation, which stops the motion."

Having found the source of her pain – degeneration of the SI joint – Dr. Tobler recommended surgical fusion to anchor the joint firmly in place. He performed the surgery at The Christ Hospital using advanced, 3-D navigation that provided high-resolution images of the spine and surgical site before, during, and immediately after surgery.

Sophia stayed at the hospital overnight and then went home.

Within a week after the surgery, Sophia was getting around on her own and able to draw her own bath. Three months after the procedure, she had completely recovered, with nearly 100 percent pain relief. "Believe me, all that pain is completely gone," she says. "I can't believe it. I can't wait to get in bed at night so I can get a good night's sleep."

Her words for Dr. Tobler were simple and sincere. "You changed my life."

~ Cindy Starr


>> more hope stories

Hope Story Disclaimer -"Sophia's Story" is about one patient's health-care experience. Please bear in mind that because every patient is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Results are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.