PARKER, Colo. (CBS4) – Chronic lower back pain affects nearly 85 percent of the U.S. population and is the number one cause of missed work. CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh learned a Colorado doctor is offering a new surgery that could be the answer for some patients desperate for relief.
Traci Snow’s car was hit from behind on Arapahoe Road. That triggered back pain a dozen years ago.
“I was never at a 10, I was always a screaming 15,” Snow said of her pain.
After 18 months and major surgery, Snow’s car was rear ended again on the same stretch of road one traffic light away.
“My whole back was just mush,” she said.
She had more surgeries and medications, and then a major setback at a grocery store.
“There was a piece of lettuce on the floor and I went up and came down like a sack of potatoes,” she said.
More pain, little relief.
“I was walking like Quasimodo.”
Five months ago Snow met with spine specialist Dr. Brad Duhon at Parker Adventist Hospital.
“One frequently overlooked source of back pain is the SI joint, or the sacroiliac joint,” Duhon said.
The sacroiliac is where the spine joins the pelvis. Snow’s joint was arthritic. Through small incisions, Duhon implanted three rods. Bone will grow into and around the material and stabilize the joint.
“We’ve given a lot of these people a new lease on life, getting them back to the things they want to do,” Duhon said.
“The minute I came out of anesthesia I knew that everything was right again in the world with Tracy,” Snow said.
Through physical therapy, Snow is learning how to re-use and strengthen her back, abdominal and pelvic muscles. She has cut her pain medications in half. She’s hopeful that someday she’ll be pain free.
Studies show up to 30 percent of people with back pain may have SI joint problems. They could be caused by trauma, arthritis and even pregnancy.