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A New Breakthrough for Pelvic Pain Management

Did you know that 25% of all chronic lower back pain is caused by pelvic pain in the sacroiliac joint? The is one of the joints in your pelvis that often degenerates and can cause chronic pain. A significant proportion of the American public is suffering from chronic pain each and every day – in fact, that number is estimated to be somewhere between one third and two-thirds of the population, meaning that millions of Americans are potentially suffering from sacroiliac joint problems.

joint issues Sacroiliac joint problems can be caused by a number of things including:

  • Car accidents

  • Wear and tear degeneration (also known as osteoarthritis)

  • Inflammation of the jointly called sacroiliitis

Current therapies do provide some relief – but could a new procedure known as an SI joint fusion be the breakthrough sufferers have been waiting for?

What Are The Current Treatment options for Sacroiliac joint problems?

In medicine – doctors try to solve any issues in the simplest least invasive way possible first. They then go to more radical approaches (usually medical treatment) before finally looking to surgery as a last resort. Treatments for SI joint problems currently include:

  • Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin. These are usually bought over the counter in a drug store and can reduce the inflammation of the region. Less inflammation means the pain fibres are less likely to fire and as such people can experience less pain. However this often only dulls the pain and does not fully treat the problem

  • Physiotherapy – a good physiotherapist can often help significantly by prescribing exercises that improve muscle function in the area.

  • Injections – injection of steroids (which reduce inflammation like NSAIDs but are a lot more powerful) or local anaesthetics (which immediately dulls the pain by stopping nerves from firing) can injected right into the joints

  • Surgery – for those that aren’t helped by the above procedures SI joint fusion could be a new option.

What is SI Joint Fusion and Does it work?

The procedure usually works by “fusing” the joint using a titanium rod or screw. This stops the joint from moving – so will reduce mobility a bit – but less movement of the joint means pain fibres aren’t activated and patients theoretically experience significantly less pain. But does the procedure work?

study published this month in the prestigious journal Neurosurgery looked at patient who were treated conservatively and compared them to those who had an SI fusion procedure over 6 years. The results are drastic. Patients who has conservative therapy had no improvement in their symptoms – but did significantly increase their use of opioid painkillers like morphine over the six years. By contrast, patients with SI fusion had “large improvements in SIJ pain, large improvements in disability… a decrease in opioid use”.

The results are in and they are clear. SI joint fusion is a breakthrough for pelvic pain management.