New procedure to ease that aching back - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

New procedure to ease that aching back

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Chronic back pain is one of the most common medical complaints. FOX 26 News met with Dr. Saqib Siddiqui from The Spine Center in Houston about the symptoms of a problem that is often misdiagnosed.

"This is a particular form of back pain called sacroiliac pain and has different words, like Sacroilitis. It's really quite undiagnosed! About 25 percent of chronic back pain sufferers may have pain coming from this joint, and it's often forgotten about by the diagnosing physician. Unless you look for it and do the proper exam or diagnostic injection, you may not know that the sacroiliac joint is causing their chronic back pain," explains Dr. Siddiqui.

Let's get right to the point about the symptoms. Dr. Siddiqui says the typical signs that this could be your problem would be low back pain, on the left or right. He adds that sometimes that pain radiates down the buttock or leg.

Dr. Siddiqui also says the problem is often misdiagnosed, because it seldom shows up on imaging results (like x-rays and CT scans). That's why he says it's important to undergo the right diagnostic testing.

"There are six different current physical exams of them lying down on the couch, and we do a sacroiliac injection under sedation at a surgery center or hospital. We inject the joint under fluoroscopy, using an x-ray machine, to make sure they're in the right place. Then within a few hours, the patient should get relief of pain."

Options are available to treat the pain. Dr. Siddiqui says he always prefers to begin with non-invasive treatments like physical therapy. He says cortisone injections and chiropractic treatments can often help ease the pain. His last resort is surgery, but a fairly new procedure has really made it a lot easier on patients.

"In the past, the surgery for this was really quite extensive. It was a 12-inch incision, and required several days in the hospital. It was similar to what you'd have if you were in a severe car wreck with a broken pelvis. We had to expose all of that! Now we have a technique which can fuse the sacroiliac joint using a small incision, that's 2-3 inches long. Now we can (make an incision through the side), and put in three implants," explains Dr. Siddiqui. He also says most patients walk within an hour of surgery and feel relief of pain within a few days. They'll be on crutches for about three weeks.

As far as the ideal candidate is concerned, it would be someone who's had chronic back pain for six months or longer, who has failed physical therapy, injections, and chiropractic treatment for this joint.

Dr. Siddiqui says the patient would need to have had two positive injections, so that he's sure of the diagnosis. He tells us the incision heals in a week, and most people are back at work after a few days.

"This will take six months to fully heal, but within three weeks, they can return to full weight-bearing and within two to three months, full sport and contact activities," says Dr. Siddiqui.

"I've been doing this (procedure) since September, and patients are happy with their outcome, and we have more patients on the way," says Dr. Siddiqui.

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