Brenda suffered for six years from severe back pain caused by sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Brenda, together with her team of doctors, underwent the minimally invasive, outpatient Rialto™ SI Fusion System surgery at age 63.
Brenda answers some commonly asked questions about her experience with lower back pain what the Rialto procedure was like for her.
- What were your symptoms prior to surgery?
My symptoms were due to what was diagnosed as “hypermobility” of both SI joints. I had lots of trouble standing or sitting in one place without adjusting my posture or moving about. If I moved suddenly, I would sometimes feel and hear “clunking” in my pelvis. I had nearly constant pain in my lower back, bilaterally, but worse on the left side. I was growing more and more dependent on pain medications in order to live my life. I carried ice bags with me everywhere I went.
- What treatment(s) did you try prior to deciding upon surgery?
I had many rounds of physical therapy, which typically made my symptoms worse. I had injections, which worked for only a few days to a week at a time.I wanted to try treatments that my insurance would not cover. Finally, a physiatrist recommended that I see a physical therapist, who he said had a “great deal of success” with helping patients with the same issues I was experiencing. Forty PT sessions later, I was still unstable, despite the fact that my doctor commented that I demonstrated much greater pelvic strength.
- How and why did you decide to have surgery utilizing the RIALTO system?
I simply did my research. I consulted with surgeons who operated using different technology and/or methods. I utilized YouTube videos and peer reviewed medical papers. I chose the Rialto method and technology because I understood it to be a less-invasive procedure that I believed offered a more manageable, and swifter recovery. The YouTube video I shared with my supportive family and friends was Dr. Carter Beck’s 22-minute video, in which he describes “why and how” he created the RIALTO method. I joined several Facebook groups related to pelvic floor/SI dysfunction to learn everything I could.
- Was your surgery done outpatient OR were you admitted to the hospital for aftercare?
I had outpatient surgery which lasted about 45 minutes. I had bilateral surgery, (that is on BOTH SI joints) done at the same time. I was released from the outpatient recovery room to return to a home setting.
- Did you have any immediate or recognizable reduction in acute pain?
Yes, I experienced an appreciable difference immediately.
- Can you tell me about your recovery from surgery?
I flew home from Montana to Florida less than 48 hours after my surgery. I used ice bags and pain medication for comfort. Once I arrived home, I rested often, but also followed a “walking regimen” as ordered by my surgeon. I continued to use ice bags for comfort and medication prescribed, as needed for about six weeks. I avoided activities that increased my pain. I didn’t drive for about three or four weeks, and then only for very short trips. I never was prescribed a walker or crutches. I avoided anything that increased my pain. The second and third weeks were the most painful for me. After that, everything improved slowly. At three months’ time, I was certain I was going to be great. It took me about a year to recovery completely, and there were a few setbacks, where I had to “back up and take it easy” for a time.
- Were you prescribed physical therapy following as part of your recovery process?
No. I understand that some patients are prescribed physical therapy.
- How soon did your life return to “what was your new normal?”
I would say a full year for myself. I am sure recovery time varies.
- Can you do things now that you could not do prior to surgery?
Yes! I couldn’t sit on the floor with my grandchildren prior. I couldn’t stand in one place for more than a minute prior. I could not walk on the beach prior. Prior to surgery I had to go to bed for days at a time to rest.
- Based on your recovery, would you have this surgery again?
- Do you have any advice?
Yes! “Baby that butt” and be patient during your recovery. Listen to your body.