New Neuro-procedure for S-I joint has patients moving again

The S-I joint is a very common source of back pain.
The S-I joint is a very common source of back pain.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Although retired, Annette Taylor leads a busy life. However, back pain slowed her down.

"I felt like I had no life. I had no quality of life. Everything I did - sat,  laid out - hurt terribly bad and it was like no one could figure out what was wrong," said Taylor. "Take some Tylenol - learn to live with it."

Little did she know that her pain problem could be resolved with a tiny titanium implant.

"I went to his office on Tuesday; Thursday I had the surgery," said Taylor.

Her surgeon said the S-I joint is a very common source of back pain. Dr. Cheng Tao, a Neuro-surgeon, said it's under diagnosed.

"It's a joint that connects our sacrum, which is our tail bone, to our pelvis," said Tao. "Most patients that I see in my clinic… have had previous back surgeries, particularly lumbar fusions. They are patients who have developed problems from trauma and degenerative changes to that joint."

He said there is a not a lot of movement there, but the joint needs to be stabilized.

Surgeons begin with a small incision on the side of the hip. X-rays guide the surgeon who uses special instruments to place the titanium implants across the joint.

"It's a very short procedure, usually between 45 minutes and an hour. What we do is place three implants across the S-I joint, stabilizing the joint and eventually we want the joint to fuse," said Tao.

Taylor spent one night in the hospital. She said when she woke up after surgery she could feel her left leg - something she hadn't done in years.

"I now have quality of life. I can sleep in my bed. I can walk my dog around the block. It just feels good. I have to take care of my parents, and I can do that now without having to hide the pain from them," she said.

With nothing to hide, no pain, and no limitations, she's much happier.

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