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ME, AND MY CROOKED BACK…

It has been a few years since I had an MRI but my hip consultant sent me for one last summer to check out how things were going on in my spine. He order a lumber, sacral and pelvis MRI I was originally sent to a hip specialist as I was having referred pain in my hips and my GP wondered if it was my hips and not my back causing the pain. .

He told me I obviously had a lot of problems with my spine but the ones he might be able to help me with were my SIJ (Sacroiliac Joints) which showed arthritis in them and that I also had a small oedema within the posterior paravertebral muscles.

I was offered a steroid injection into my SIJ to help ease the pain. He said I was also suffering from bursitits and gave a steroid shot into both my hips.

The sacroiliac injection in my SIJ did help a little but as the months went on it all came back again so I went back to see my consultant to arrange for another SIJ into the other side. He checked me over and noticed how much the left side had deteriorated and gave me another shot of steroid into my left hip and wrote to the radiologist to book another SIJ injection.

I knew I needed to try and get things sorted on the NHS as these are expensive injections and this is a long term problem but with Covid-19 it has meant the waiting list is getting longer and longer. But, the pain team did phone me and after a long chat we decided I really needed a thorough investigation with a spine team. They said they would refer me and I will just wait to hear from them but she did ask me to get the details on the MRI scan I had last year as this would help the spine team to understand my problems.

The MRI copy came through this week and it gave me quite a shock as from the thoracic area down I do not have a disc that is healthy. It showed minor scoliosis in my thoracolumbar spine which I was a bit suspicious about as from the front my trunk is pulling me to one side which is very obvious when I wear trousers with a zip front which pulls right over to one side.

It showed Degenerative Disc Disease within the rest of my lumber spine and disc protrusions at L1/2, L2/3 and L3/4. L4/5 and L5/S1 are fixed with rods and plates. Bone spurs seem to also be present in a number of the discs. When I looked at the symptoms of an L1/2 disc bulge it felt like a bell had just rung. Some of symptoms I have been experiencing were spot on. The trouble is that I tend to put any new pain or discomfort down to Fibro and try and ignore it when really I should practice what I preach and keep a diary of any new symptoms to discuss with my GP.

Basically, I have multilevel degenerative changes within upper lumber spine and arthritis in particular in my two sacroiliac joints.

Next Thursday I go for another steroid injection on the opposite side from last time into my SIJ’s. On the MRI report I noticed that it was written by the radiologist that is performing my injection so I have decided to have a chat with her about my scan to see who she thinks I should go and see.

The professor who performed two of my first spinal surgeries in my 30’s said he thought I would be in a wheel chair by the time I reached my fifties. I will be 68 this year and no where near ready for any wheelchair but it does make me realise that I have obviously managed my spinal pain and problems correctly. It’s all about balance. If you can get your balance right then you will not do more harm to your health/condition. Pacing is essential and something I have practiced for a long long time.

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SACROILIAC JOINT PAIN- WHAT IT IS AND HOW IT CAN BE TREATED…

If, like me you are a sufferer of SI joint pain then you will try a number of treatments to help alleviate it. The Very Well Health site explain what sacroiliac joint pain is. SI joints (there are two) are located on either side of your lower back between the sacrum—a triangle-shaped bone that sits beneath the lumbar spine and above the tailbone—and the pelvic bones. SI joints, like any other, can become irritated, dysfunctional (they move too much or not enough), or injured, all of which can lead to pain.

The symptoms of SI joint pain is pain, which can be sharp, stabbing, or dull and located in the lower back or the back of the hip area. Sometimes the pain is felt in the groin, thigh, below the knee, or in the buttocks. Movements or positions that stress the joint can worsen the pain, such as standing up from a sitting position, walking up stairs, turning in bed, or bending/twisting.

I have arthritis in both my SI joints and one side gives me a lot more pain than the other. My pain is both sharp when I lie on my side and stabbing and after a walk can be dull and is in my lower back and hip area. Last year they thought I was suffering from hip bursitis due to the referred pain I was having in my hips but the MRI scan showed it was the SI joints with arthritis.

The treatment I had was corticosteroid which was injected into the SI joint to provide longer-lasting relief. The relief was amazing and lasted a good three months and has slowly come back during the last month. I was told I could have these injections every four months so I am now waiting for a referral for another one. This does not always work for everyone but they say that this injection is  “gold standard” diagnostic test for SI joint dysfunction. If a person experiences at least a 75 percent improvement in pain, the test is considered “positive. So, at least you know what we are dealing with.

Other treatments which Healthline writes about include stretching the muscles around your SI joint as this can potentially help you loosen up tight areas. This may help relieve tension in your lower back and make it easier to move around with less pain and discomfort. They suggest that you try to set aside some time each day to stretch. Even doing a couple of stretches for a few minutes a day can go a long way. Here are 5 stretches and 2 gentle exercises you can do at home to help ease SI joint pain from Healthline.

Other treatments for SI joint pain which are explained on Pain Management site include, radiofrequency denervation  which can also be useful in the treatment of SI joints. This form of treatment uses heat to deactivate the nerves surrounding the painful joint, preventing it from sending pain signals. Treatment with a good physio therapist can also help correct posture and body movements, and provide advice on different sleeping positions. Over the counter medication can be used to treat painful symptoms and in more severe cases, prescription painkillers may be administered. Or, in some cases, where all the above treatment methods fail, then surgery may be considered as an option. SI joint fusion permanently fixes the sacrum to the ilium using metal implants.

Source: Very Well Health, Health Line, Pain Management