Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

New iFuse Implant System Helped Cara Strickland Become Pain Free

Life can sometimes throw us a curveball and everything changes, almost overnight. Cara Strickland understands this all too well.

Cara grew up riding horses. Her passion for this sport is still evident when she speaks about her joy of barrel racing and dressage jumping. She also mastered the gymnastic skills necessary to become a well-regarded cheerleader and coach. Along the way, she started a family and had three, active boys.

During the pregnancy of her first son, something unexpected occurred – one of life’s curveballs – and the agonizing back pain that resulted from this would haunt Cara for 13 years. Fortunately, however, she managed to have some good luck. She met Dr. Ralph Rashbaum at Texas Back Institute.

Back Pain Complications of Pregnancy 

Cara’s pain was the result of an injury to her sacroiliac joint. This joint, also known as the SI joint, is the joint bridging the lowest segment of the spinal column to the bones of the pelvis. Changes in the body due to such conditions as pregnancy can cause dysfunction in the SI joint and lead to chronic pain long after the pregnancy is over.

Dr. Rashbaum notes, “During pregnancy, hormones are released in the woman’s body that allows ligaments to relax. This prepares the body for childbirth. Relaxation of the ligaments holding the SI joints together allows for increased motion in the joints and can lead to increased stresses and abnormal wear. The additional weight and the altered gait while walking (associated with pregnancy) also places additional stress on the SI joints.”

This is what happened with Cara Strickland and her life became miserable. Here’s how she felt:

Back Pain and the SI Joint

Problems with the SI joint and the resulting back pain are extremely pervasive. Dr. Rashbaum notes, “Some research has shown that almost 30 percent of the lower back pain is caused by injury or disease such as arthritis in the SI joint.”

This pain is particularly acute when suffers are walking or climbing stairs. This SI joint pain is generally in the lower back, buttocks and thighs. In most cases, it is treated with injections of pain medications and physical therapy. However, in some cases, the only remedy for this condition involves fusion surgery of these damaged joints. Fortunately, the surgeons at Texas Back Institute have begun performing a minimally invasive procedure for SI joint fusion.

In commenting on the state-of-the art fusion procedure, Dr. Rashbaum notes, “The iFuse Implant System, which we use on our patients, is designed to provide fusion for the sacroiliac joint by inserting small titanium implants across the sacroiliac joint. It is less invasive than traditional SI joint surgery and it is specifically designed to stabilize and fuse the heavily loaded SI joint.”

He continued, “The triangular implant profile minimizes rotation and an ‘interference fit’ minimizes micromotion. The rigid titanium constructs and large implants surface areas provide stability with no conflicts with lumbar fusion devices.” The benefits of this remarkable procedure include smaller incisions, reduced blood loss and decreased operating room time.

“This iFuse Implant System has several advantages over the way this SI joint procedure was done in the past. There is no need for bone grafting, less soft tissue stripping and minimal tendon irritation. This means the patient is up and around much quicker,” Dr. Rashbaum notes.

After 13 years of chronic pain and attempting to alleviate this with every other treatment, Cara consulted with Dr. Rashbaum and elected to undergo the surgery. Making the decision led to a feeling of relief. Here’s how Cara explains it.

Is Fusion Surgery Right for You?

As the Texas Back Institute website notes:

“There are many different ways to fuse a spinal segment. The surgical approach and the exact type of spinal fusion performed depend on the individual’s pain complaints, history of previous surgery, medical health and spinal structure. The number of levels involved in the fusion depends on the disc levels identified as problematic through diagnostic studies prior to surgery. The particular fusion graft or device to use during surgery will be determined by the surgeon. This decision is based upon individual anatomy, levels of involvement, patient’s medical health and overall patient safety.”

Every patient is different and any decision about surgery requires as much knowledge as possible. The physicians at Texas Back Institute such as Ralph Rashbaum are internationally known as spine surgery experts and with their knowledge of new procedures such as the iFuse Implant system, patients can expect the best treatment in the world.

Cara now knows what it feels like to be pain free after 13 long years. She remembers the feeling:

For more information on treatment for SI joint pain, just click here or contact Texas Back Institute at 800.247.BACK (2225).

Hear Cara’s full story:

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