FAQ’s on Sacroiliac Joint Injection
What is a Sacroiliac Joint Injection?
Located where the sacrum (the final segment of the spine) meets the pelvis, the sacroiliac (SI) joints are comprised of cartilage and assist in supporting the body during movement. The sacroiliac joints are not very mobile, there is often between only 2 to 6mm of room during periods of movement. Even with this minimal amount of room to move, the SI joint is still susceptible to arthritic inflammation resulting from gradual wear and tear to the joints cartilage.
Patients who currently have inflammation in their SI joints will typically be experiencing severe pain as a symptom, and may see a functional loss of mobility due to swelling. An SI joint injection seeks to provide symptomatic relief by reducing the inflammation to soothe the area, providing pain relief and restoring function.
What will a Sacroiliac Joint Injection treat?
There are numerous conditions that can form in the SI joint to cause pain for a patient, with SI joint complications causing between 15% and 25% of all cases of lumbar back pain in our patients. Due to this high probability of being the source of lumbar pain, the SI joint is frequently the first potential cause tested in patients who are experiencing pain in the lumbar spine. SI joint injections are used to provide relief for patients who are having pain due to their SI joints, with nearly any symptomatic pain able to be treated through a joint injection.
How is a Sacroiliac Joint Injection performed?
The exact area that will receive the injection will be based on which portion of the SI joint is causing pain for the patient. After careful examination to isolate this problematic area, the patient will be positioned as needed to best allow the attending physician access to this portion of the joint. As the SI joint is located between two bones with irregular shapes, the edges that meet to make the joint are not always well defined. To ensure accurate guidance of the injection needle, our physician will use fluoroscopic imaging (a series of X-rays taken in quick succession to create a current image of where the needle is).
After correctly positioning the needle into the source of a patient’s distress, a numbing agent will be injected alongside a steroidal supplement directly into the SI joint. The numbing agent is designed to numb the area, directly providing therapeutic relief with the steroidal supplement designed to extend the duration of a patients relief. An SI joint injection is performed as a simple outpatient procedure, requiring only local anesthetic with minimal recovery time for patients.
How well do Sacroiliac Joint Injections work?
There are two reasons an SI joint injection can be performed: as a diagnostic tool, and as a therapeutic treatment for patients. When used as a diagnostic tool, only a small amount of numbing agent will be used in the joint. If a patients symptoms cease, it can be confirmed that the SI joint is the most likely cause of symptoms and that a therapeutic treatment will be able to provide relief.
A therapeutic SI joint injection uses a much larger dosage of anesthetic for the joint, and is designed to provide immediate relief for an extended duration of time. The majority of our patients are able to achieve between two and three months of relief with a SI joint injection. A collective review of the SI joint injection procedure has found it to be a very reliably and effective tool in the treatment of sacroiliac-related complications. (A systematic evaluation of the therapeutic effectiveness of sacroiliac joint interventions, 2012)
What are the risks of a Sacroiliac Joint Injection?
There is very little risk associated with this procedure, with the largest risks being the chance of bleeding, infection, or soreness at the site of injection. The largest risk patient’s face is that the injection will not be able to provide the desired amount of relief.