What is the sacroiliac joint?
The sacroiliac (SI) joint is a strong, stable joint that connects the pelvis and the sacrum (the triangular bone found at the bottom of the spine) on both sides of the lower part of the spine. These two joints do not have a lot of motion, but do help transfer force from the upper body to the lower body and act as a shock absorber.
Pain from the SI joint(s) can be found in the exact location of the joint or spread to the abdomen, groin, buttocks or leg.
What is a sacroiliac joint injection and how is it performed?
Also known as an SI joint block, SI joint injection is a procedure performed to diagnose or treat low back pain and other symptoms resulting from dysfunction of one or both of the SI joints.
A diagnostic injection and a therapeutic injection can be done separately, but are typically combined into a single injection.
The diagnostic SI joint injection is designed to confirm SI joint dysfunction. Utilizing fluoroscopy (X-ray guidance), a contrast is injected into the joint—to ensure proper placement of the needle and medication—followed by a numbing agent such as lidocaine. The patient is then asked to perform the activities that would typically result in pain. If the patient experiences pain relief for most of the time the numbing agent is active, then joint dysfunction is cautiously confirmed. A second injection using a different numbing agent will likely be done to officially confirm the diagnosis.
A pain relief injection for SI joint dysfunction is performed the same way as a diagnostic injection, but instead of a numbing agent, an anti-inflammatory medication known as a corticosteroid is injected to reduce inflammation and pain. If the shot is deemed effective, physical therapy may also be recommended to further reduce the amount of pain and help the patient return to full, normal function.
What can be expected following the procedure?
A few hours after the injection, patients may feel numbness, slight weakness or an odd feeling in the leg(s). The day after, most patients can resume any medication they normally take and can return to normal activity.
Pain typically begins to improve within 10 days after the injection. If it doesn’t, patients should speak to their physician about other pain relief options.
What conditions are treated with sacroiliac joint injections?
SI joint injections are typically designed for patients suffering from chronic, non-specific back pain, pain from sciatica or from actual dysfunction of the SI joint(s) due to trauma or repetitive stress on the joint(s).
At Nova Spine & Pain Centers, we believe you should not have to live with pain. Among our various treatments, SI joint injections can be an effective solution. Visit our expert Dr. Harris Shaikh and his team to learn if these injections can help you.