Four out of five people will suffer back pain at some point in their lives. It can be debilitating and life altering, but now a new procedure can ease the pain faster than ever.
Jeff Pellisier was a surfer, a rodeo rider and a big game hunter. But when back pain struck, he was desperate for relief.
"I remember I was on the strongest opium patch you can have," said Pellisier.
Along with a million others, his problem was lower back pain -- the sacroiliac joint (SI).
"It’s a really strong joint that keeps us standing," said Dr. Neel Anand from Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles.
Dr. Anand is one of the first to perform a minimally invasive procedure that uses titanium implants bolted into the pelvis to stabilize the joint.
"In the past, we used to open up and go down. Today, we have three pins through a small incision of about an inch," said Dr. Anand.
Another difference with the surgery is recovery time. For traditional fusion surgery, it is six months. For the minimally invasive procedure, it is two weeks. In fact, with the new technique, patients can go home the next day.
"We basically put in three pins right through the pelvis and lock it into place," said Dr. Anand.
The pins are covered with a plasma spray to help the bone grow around and into the implant for more stability.
Pellisier tried this new surgery. The day after the operation, he was up and walking.
The implants are not a first line of defense for SI joint sufferers. First steroid shots are used, then radio frequency ablation, then the surgery. The implants will most likely last for life.