SI joint fusion surgery?

Is there anyone here who is still riding and who’s had SI joint fusion surgery? I have a lot of research to do for myself before I make any decision. But I would like to know from riders if they’ve had this done and did it work, and can you still ride? My only goal is to be comfortable for walking trail rides. I am concerned about what the fusion does to your range of motion. I want to be able to sit on my horse, ride a bike, go for hikes, etc., and be able to MOVE. Please let me know your experiences.

Had the fusion surgery almost 10 years ago at L4 - L5, replaced with cages, then attached to the vertebrae above and below site, plus laminectomy. I re-located in order to swim / deep water exercise as many days as possible now (5-7 days per week). Gave up the riding after continuing to try the first couple years. Too painful for days after, did not handle the meds needed to alleviate the pain and still be able to function. I do know someone who rides for para with same surgery, but functions the rest of the time with meds from a wheelie chair, what works for you is what you have to figure out.

Neurosurgeon thought I might get 3-4 more years of mobility from surgery, so I beat that but the price was no riding. Be prepared for life to change. And the docs said that wherever I was in six to 12 months was how it would be - docs were wrong. I continued to improve, get stronger in my core, less foot drop for 5 plus years, but again not riding and with a helluva lot of work. Everyone is different, don’t let them limit you, listen to your body

1 Like

Are you referring to the sacro-iliac joint (SI joint)?

Hi—Yes! I do specifically mean the sacroiliac (SI) joints.

The SI joints do not have much motion so I would not worry about any loss of range of motion,


I had this surgery in 2016.

It took a lot longer to heal from than I had anticipated, I still am very restricted in what I can do. I struggle to sit in certain positions, hiking is really a no-go for me, and cannot work in the career I had during the accident.

However, I can still ride horses. I was not riding at the time of the accident that caused my injuries, but started again a little over a year ago. I rode my entire childhood and early 20s with essentially a little over a decade unable to access horses except occasionally.

I ride 5 or more times a week now for over an hour at a time. I have to listen to my body for sure and I always, always wear a protective vest now. I worked up slowly to it, but I can WTC and do dressage, though I’ll never jump again because of the risk. I make sure to pay extra attention to my position, and the attitude of my (admittedly high-strung) horses before I get on, situational awareness is key to staying safe for me. Heck, I can even mount from the ground again which surprised me!

A lot of physical therapy, yoga (definitely with modified poses), rest, and progressive exercise helped me become more functional, but I still have a lot of back pain years later. I feel like the doctors understated the healing time. Standing on a balance board has helped a lot as well.

It’s not necessarily the end of riding. It just takes a lot more to get to that point. Things are harder but it makes me really take stock of what is important and what I am willing to push myself to do. The horses are my main motivation in attempting to overcome my physical deficits. Be willing to give yourself a lot of time, and do not rush anything.

Thank you SO much for sharing your experience! I have a lot of thinking to do, but I’m at the point where injections don’t last, three surgical ryzotomies have not lasted, and Rxs really don’t get me anywhere, either. Physical therapy without doing any of those things I just mentioned just leaves me in more pain. I would be thrilled if I could walk, trot and canter again, but really all I want to be able to do is enjoy walking trail rides. And sit on a couch or in a car/plane without pain, sit through a movie, go hiking, ride my bike fun fun, etc.

I have EDs and had an SI fusion done 4 years ago. I still have some SI pain and I go to PT twice a week. I do my SI exercises daily as well. I ride dressage and am able to sit the trot and canter no problem. The surgery was a life saver for me.

1 Like

I have pretty significant disk problems in my lower back. I’ve been able to manage with injections, PT, etc. This past summer I asked the Dr about more permanent solutions like surgery. His response was that surgery was 50/50 normally but for an active person like me, he said he’d wait until it could no longer be managed. I had a bad bout in early October from which I am still recovering. I’ve decided that jumping is no longer part of my program.

I keep an eye on the new options and know that surgery is coming at some point.