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Medical Moment: Relieving back pain

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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There are seven million people who have severe SI joint pain in America.

The joints link your pelvis to your lower spine. Many cases are misdiagnosed since the pain can mimic other conditions, like a herniated disc or a hip problem.

But now, a new treatment is relieving the pain.

These small steps for Anthony Mitchell are a giant leap in the right direction. “So many years of dealing with pain and putting you in a state of depression where you just want to end your life,” he says.

For 16 years, Anthony had so much pain, he could barely bend down and tie his shoes. But after many misdiagnoses, Doctor Thomas Freeman honed in on this: the SI joint. “Unfortunately, it’s been misdiagnosed in so many people for so long my average patient has had sacroiliac joint pain from anywhere from two years to 35 years,” Freeman says.

Doctor Freeman had a solution for Anthony. A new procedure called neurovascular anticipating distraction interference arthrodesis, or NADIA. Doctor Freeman inserted this device into the SI joint, which encourages bone to fuse to it, lessening the pain. During the procedure, surgeons approach the joint from the posterior, or behind, instead of the side, which Doctor Freeman says means less risk.

“It seems to be very reliable in our first few patients where we’ve done it,” Freeman says.

Now, Doctor Freeman is hoping he can help more patients like Anthony put a stop to SI joint pain without being stuck with it.

“I tell anyone that’s dealing with what I’m dealing with there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Anthony says.

And hopefully, pain-free days ahead.

The tell-tale signs that SI joint problems could be to blame for back pain are: pain that gets worse with sitting, going from sitting to standing, laying on the left side, and walking up steps.

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