DENVER - Back pain is common and often chronic for many people. It can be the result of a fall, car crash or overuse.
Erin Jachimiak lived with back pain for years. As a mom with two young children, she often told her kids she couldn't do something with them because of her pain. She tried acupuncture, massage, pilates, injections and chiropractic care to relieve the pain. Nothing brought her relief.
"Mine was mostly down in my hip area to the point where I couldn't sit. It hurt to walk. It hurt to basically do anything," Jachimiak said.
As a last resort, she began to do research on surgical options. What she found online was not encouraging. Many patients talked about the excruciating recovery and the pain that remained after surgery. Jachimiak kept searching for answers and realized her pain may be connected to the sacroiliac joint, also known as the SI joint.
Dr. Vikas Patel at the University of Colorado Hospital has been performing SI joint fusion for a few years. Initially, he was cautiously optimistic about the procedure. He says he waited a couple of years as he watched his patients and their recovery.
"I was pleasantly surprised. I was impressed with how much benefit we were able to get them," Dr. Patel said.
Dr. Patel says the procedure is only effective with a thorough and proper diagnosis of SI joint pain. He encourages anyone considering this option to do extensive research. Unlike spine surgery, it does not require several days in the hospital and lengthy rehabilitation. However, he does ask that his patients stay on crutches for at least six weeks.
Currently, the University of Colorado Hospital is one of just a handful of hospitals nationwide involved in a clinical trial comparing the SI fusion to other non-surgical options, such as medical injections, manipulation and massage.
To learn more about back pain and the myths surrounding it, click on the following links.