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    The Back Pain That’s Hard to Find, Low Back Pain and the Sacroiliac Joint

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    One of the most common causes of lower back pain can come from a Sacroiliac Joint Disorder. Houston Spine Surgeon, Dr. Richard Francis treats this disorder with the iFuse Implant System, a minimally invasive surgical procedure that typically takes about an hour and requires one overnight stay in the hospital.

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    Chronic low back pain is a common cause of disability in the United States and available treatments have not been associated with a cure or even major long-term relief for most individuals. Attempts to identify specific causes of the pain have also met with limited success. One potential pain generator is the sacroiliac joint (SIJ). In recent years, considerable research has helped identify those patients with chronic low back pain due to the SIJ and then to offer treatments. Few high quality studies have compared treatments for patients thought to have pain due to the SIJ.

    SJF is becoming a widely used treatment for a condition that poses chronic pain and disability in its sufferers. A minimally invasive treatment for SJD that has a reasonable success rate and is safe is desirable as a treatment option.

    Richard R. M. Francis, M.D., M.B.A ., is a leading orthopedic and spine surgeon offering innovative treatments for low back pain. Dr. Francis is the founder of Spine Associates and has been practicing for decades.

    Four out of five people will suffer from back pain in their lifetime. For many it’s debilitating and impacts their quality of life. Their pain can go on for years without relief.

    One common cause of low back pain originates from the sacroiliac or SI joint. The SI joint is located in the pelvis and links the iliac bone (pelvis) to the sacrum (lowest part of the spine above the tailbone). This joint transfers weight and forces between your upper body and legs. It is an essential component for shock absorption to prevent impact forces during walking from reaching the spine.

    Sacroiliac joint disorders are commonly misdiagnosed in patients with low back pain due to the similarity of symptoms with other spinal conditions such as a herniated disc or sciatica. Pain generated from SI joint disorders occurs in varying degrees on one or both sides of the low back. The pain can also be felt in the groin, hip, thigh, buttocks, and down the back of the leg.

    Certain movements or positions can provoke pain in the SI joint. Many people experience pain when sitting and will shift their weight to the opposite side. Moving from a seated position to standing, twisting, climbing stairs, crossing legs, rolling over in bed, getting in/out of the car, and lifting may also cause pain.

    SI joint disorders affect both males and females, but they are more common in women. Many women experience low back pain during pregnancy when hormones are released to relax and enlarge the ligaments in preparation for childbirth. The growing uterus may stretch or weaken muscles around the pelvis. Added weight and compensatory changes in walking patterns during pregnancy can also place strain on the SI joints resulting in inflammation and pain.

    For most women postpartum, the SI joints revert to their normal, tightened, and locked position. For 20% of women, full tightening does not occur and they develop varying degrees of chronic low back pain.

    Pain in the sacroiliac joints can also be caused by age related degenerative changes, trauma, previous lumbar fusion, degenerative sacroiliitis, or may be caused by another condition like Ankylosing Spondylitis.

    Most people respond to conservative treatments including physical therapy, SI joint injections, chiropractic manipulations, or radiofrequency ablations. If conservative therapy fails to provide lasting relief, your doctor may consider surgical options.

    Minimally-Invasive Surgery. Maximum Results. Independent clinical research has shown that minimally-invasive surgery provides the benefits listed below: · Promotes faster recovery · Reduced post-operative pain · Lower complication rates · Increased accuracy

    A new surgical option for the treatment of some causes of SI joint pain is the iFuse Implant System®. “The procedure is minimally invasive and only needs a 1 ½ inch incision. We stabilize the SI joint by surgically inserting three small, titanium implants across the joint to eliminate motion,” explains Richard R. M. Francis, M.D., M.B.A .

    According to Dr. Francis, “the iFuse Implant System is intended for sacroiliac fusion for conditions including sacroiliac joint disruptions and degenerative sacroiliitis. The procedure typically takes about an hour and requires one overnight stay in the hospital. Recent, published studies have reported promising results for pain relief and a high level of patient satisfaction.” (1,2)

    Richard R. M. Francis, M.D., M.B.A, offers the iFuse Implant System®. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call Spine Associates at (888) 977-4625 or visit myspineassociates.com. Dr. Francis' Houston office is located at 9301 Southwest Freeway, Suite 600, Houston, TX 77074 and in Beaumont at 3820 Pointe Parkway, at Folsom Dr., Beaumont, TX 77706.

    1 One year successful outcomes for novel sacroiliac joint arthrodesis system. Donald Sachs, M.D. * Paid consultant of SI-BONE. Annals of Surgical Innovation and Research, 2012 Dec 27;6(1):13.

    2 Sacroiliac Joint Arthrodesis-MIS Technique with Titanium Implants: Report of the First 50 Patients. Leonard Rudolf, M.D. * Paid consultant of SI-BONE. The Open Orthopaedics Journal, 2012, 6, 495-502

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    “I knew what I wanted to do from my first exposure to spine surgery in medical school. What grabbed me was that you could take a child with a severe deformity and—within just a few hours—correct it to the point where it was almost normal.”
    - Richard R.M. Francis, M.D. MBA
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