Sacroiliac Joint Injections
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When a local anesthetic and a steroid medication are injected into the sacroiliac joint, you may experience relief from your chronic low back pain or sciatica pain.
The sacroiliac joints lie next to the spine, connecting the sacrum with the hip on both sides. Joint inflammation or injury can lead to pain in this area. A sacroiliac joint injection can diagnose the source of the patient’s pain, as well as providing pain relief. When your pain is believed to be the result of dysfunction in the sacroiliac joint, the joint may be numbed with lidocaine, and a numbing medication injected.
If at least 75-80 percent of your pain is relieved, then a tentative diagnosis of sacroiliac joint dysfunction may be made, although a second injection, using a different anesthetic may be done to definitively confirm the diagnosis. Again, if a considerable amount of your pain is relieved, it is probable the sacroiliac joint is the source of your pain.
Once this diagnosis is made, another injection will be made, only this one will include a corticosteroid medication to reduce inflammation within the sacroiliac joint. Once prolonged pain relief is obtained, a physical therapy program will allow you to return to your normal levels of activity. Sacroiliac joint injections can be repeated up to three times per year, to maintain pain relief.
Sacroiliac Joint Injection Procedure
The sacroiliac joint injection procedure is generally done in an operating room or procedure room, and takes only about 15 minutes. You will be asked to lie face down on your stomach, while your vital statistics are continuously monitored. The needle insertion site will be numbed, then the needle will be guided by fluoroscopy after contrast dye verifies needle placement.
The medications—lidocaine or bupivacaine and a corticosteroid drug—are injected into the joint after the healthcare provider is sure the needle placement is correct. The lidocaine or bupivacaine offers immediate pain relief, while the corticosteroid drug reduces the swelling in the joint, alleviating pain for several months to a year.
You will generally remain in the procedure room or a recovery room for at least half an hour to ensure you do not experience any allergic reaction to the anesthetic or any leg weakness or numbness. You will probably be asked to drink lots of water to flush the dye out of your body, and will be told to take it easy following the procedure, at least for the remainder of the day.
Potential Risks of Sacroiliac Joint Injections
While sacroiliac joint injections are considered a safe procedure, there are potential risks, including:
It is important that you let your healthcare provider know if you have an active infection, very high blood pressure, you are taking blood thinners, or you have a fever, the flu or a cold, as you should not have a sacroiliac joint injection if any of these issues are present.
For most people who receive a sacroiliac joint injection, the pain improves immediately after the injection due to the local anesthetic, however once that wears off, the pain returns, and may even worsen for a day or two before the steroid medication kicks in.
Are you struggling to find relief from sacroiliac joint pain?
Contact Our Seattle Interventional Pain Management Specialists
We understand that severe and chronic sacroiliac joint pain can be difficult to control. At Seattle Pain, our primary goal is to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. We believe in treating the whole patient – and not just the injury. You do not have to live in pain.