Noninvasive Joint Surgery Helps US Army Vet Get Back on His Feet

While deployed to Afghanistan, soldiers are required to traverse the mountains by foot while carrying their heavy gear. Due to all of this excruciating work, U.S. Army staff sergeant Eric Varela discovered he had developed a herniated disc. Though he attempted several forms of surgery and medication, nothing seemed to help. Until he discovered iFuse, a noninvasive procedure that fuses and re-stabilize the SI joint. iFuse uses an implant to fuse together the ilium and the sacrum. While Varela still has some residual pain, he says that his SI pain has stopped completely.

Key Points:

  • 1To diagnose SI joint pain, doctors put pressure on patients’ joints to see whether discomfort arises and inject their joints with numbing agents to see if the antidote helps.
  • 2Treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and acupuncture.
  • 3For patients like Varela, surgery is a last resort, but the operation he underwent, called iFuse, has made a world of difference.

The SI joint connects the sacrum to the ilium, or the top part of the pelvis, and it is a unique joint insofar as it does not facilitate movement, like the knee or finger joint. Rather, the joint offers a steady base and supports the upper body while upright. When it starts to move too much, SI dysfunction occurs, thereby triggering pain.

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