Pain Medicine Division offers novel minimally invasive procedure for sacroiliac joint pain

The Pain Medicine Division at UF Health is offering a novel therapy for the management of sacroiliac joint pain called sacroiliac joint fusion. The minimally invasive procedure can provide fusion and stabilization of the sacroiliac joint in eligible patients when indicated nonsurgical treatment has not provided relief.

Sacroiliac joint fusion is performed through an incision of less than an inch on the upper buttocks area. With X-ray guidance, a small bone graft is placed within the joint to promote bone fusion and relief of symptoms. This procedure is ambulatory and does not involve extensive metallic hardware placement, as was required in the past.  

Minimally invasive procedures result in less blood loss and typically have a faster recovery time.

Tyler Craig, MD, a Multidisciplinary Pain Medicine Fellow who recently had the opportunity to participate in a sacroiliac joint fusion, said the procedure is resulting in good patient outcomes. The patient whose case he was involved in used a cane to walk beforehand and showed notable improvement in walking after undergoing the procedure, he said.

“The opportunity to see the positive outcome was quite educational,” Dr. Craig said, adding that being on the forefront of a new procedure is an exciting challenge. “Not a lot of fellowships in the country are offering this.”

Sacrioliac Joint

The sacroiliac joint is between the sacrum and pelvis and acts as a shock absorber for the lower extremities. However, the joint can be injured or degenerate over time, causing sacroiliac joint pain. Two potential causes of this pain are degenerative sacroiliitis and sacral disruption, which can be caused by degenerative changes (osteoarthritis) or traumatic events.

Sacroiliac joint pain includes pain on one or both sides of the lower back; pain radiating into the buttocks, lower back, and groin; referred pain into the lower limbs to the knees; difficulty turning over in bed, struggling to put on shoes and socks, or leg pain while getting into or out of the car; stiffness in the lower back when getting up after sitting for long periods and when getting up from bed; or aching on one side of the lower back when driving long distances.

Sacroiliac joint fusion is one of several advanced pain therapies offered by UF Health. Others include neuromodulation, minimally invasive spinal decompression, and endoscopic spinal procedures.