SI Joint Fusion :: Physical Therapy with a Side of Firsts

Over the last week I’ve been working on a blog post that I’m really looking forward to sharing. But my time at the computer has been cut short by several things, so I’ve decided to write a quick note because I have good news, good news, and surprising news to share. Actually, it’s all surprising. I’ll be brief (as opposed to the epic length of most of my other posts!)

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The first thing is that last Monday I was able to pick up on a whim, drive two hours to see two of my grandkids, do fun things with them, run errands, take them to dinner and drive home. And I wasn’t in excruciating pain when I got home! I was tired and some of my muscles were tight, but seeing that I was gone from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., that’s to be expected! Never could I have done this before surgery, at least without paying a very high price. So grateful.

 

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The second thing is that I rode seven miles on my bike yesterday! I was a slowpoke (it took me 53 minutes to ride 7 miles) but I’m glad to be moving. (It’s wildflower season in Texas and spring has sprung all over the place. My slow pace allowed me to enjoy the scenery.) I’m trying not to judge the quality of my workout quite yet. Tomorrow will be 7 weeks since my surgery—seven weeks, seven miles. Sounds reasonable to me, regardless of how long it took.

 

Finally, the surprising news: I had my first physical therapy appointment today. My therapist has worked with two other SI joint fusion patients (none minimally invasive.) When she was examining me, she got super excited and exclaimed, “It’s moving! The side you had operated on is moving!” Apparently the other patients she’s worked on had very rigid pelvises after surgery. After a few more times of having me bend over to make sure she was seeing correctly, she said, “This doctor stabilized your SI joint without completely immobilizing it. Amazing!” So it still moves, but only within a very small margin. From what I understand, that’s what it was designed to do. I wonder if that was Dr. Beck’s intention? I’ll ask him when I see him next week.

 

Other PT findings: VERY tight psoas, which I already knew (this is common in people with SI joint dysfunction.) After assessing me she said that it makes total sense why my muscles are angry and sore. I’ve had chronically tight hamstrings, like my hamstrings always feel short and stretched too thin. She said it was because they, too, (along with the psoas and iliacus) have been working for 30 years to help stabilize the pelvis. These unhealthy compensatory patterns served a purpose for a very long time, and they haven’t yet gotten the message that they can go back to their regularly scheduled program. It’s time for my brain to unlearn them. Easier said than done, I’m sure.

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My PT gave me this ball to start working some of the tightness out of my psoas. I’m to lie down on it, with it pressing into my psoas/iliacus space. After two minutes of doing it in her office I’m super sore. Hellooooo psoas!

 

My PT also checked my range of motion in my hip and said it’s really good. It didn’t hurt at all when she was doing it, but afterward I felt a little bit like I did after provocation tests – achy and sore. So I’m sitting on ice and trying to remember that it’s only been seven weeks. I’m allowed to still be tender and uncomfortable in some situations. Besides, I’ve been protecting the SI joint area since it was fixated, so moving my leg in a way that activated that part of my body will probably feel sore when it’s awakened. As a wise person once said, “Progress, not perfection.”

 

I have a series of physical therapy + myofascial release massage sessions booked back-to-back over the next month. I’ll be writing about it here as it’s unfolding. I have high hopes!

 

Speaking of hope, I hope that spring is creeping out wherever you may live. Be back soon with the post I’ve been working on.