FAQ’s on Sacroiliac Joint Injection
What is a Sacroiliac Joint Injection?
The sacroiliac (SI) joints are located at the point where the pelvis meets the sacrum (the last portion of the spine) and are made of cartilage like any other joint in the body. The SI joints do not have a large range of motion, moving only an average of 2-to-6mm during periods of activity. Even with limited movement, the joints can become worn down and are susceptible to arthritic inflammation.
Patients experiencing inflammation in the SI joints will likely have a large amount of symptomatic pain and may also have a loss of function during movement due to swelling. An SI joint injection into this area can help to reduce swelling and the effects of arthritic inflammation in order to provide pain relief to the patient.
What will a Sacroiliac Joint Injection treat?
There are numerous problems that can occur in the SI joints, which account for between 15% and 25% of all causes of lumbar back pain in our patients. The high probability that the SI joint is a cause of pain for patients makes it one of the most tested locations of pain, with a SI joint injection used to provide relief in cases where the SI joints are the primary source of pain. Nearly any symptom of pain being caused by the SI joints can be relieved through a SI joint injection.
How is a Sacroiliac Joint Injection performed?
The exact positioning of the patient will depend on where the physician must inject the medication in order to reach the area of the SI joint causing pain. The SI joints are located between bones that are fairly irregular in shape, with edges that are not well defined. To ensure accurate placement of the needle during injection, fluoroscopic imaging will be used for guidance. Fluoroscopic imaging is a series of X-rays taken in quick succession to create an accurate picture of where the needle currently is located, allowing the physician to see exactly where they are guiding the needle.
Once the needle has been seated into the problematic area of the joint, a numbing agent and a steroidal component will be injected to both numb the area and help fight inflammation. An SI joint injection is a simple outpatient procedure that does not require sedation for patients.
How well do Sacroiliac Joint Injections work?
There are two separate ways a SI joint injection can be utilized: diagnostically and therapeutically. Diagnostic SI joint injections are used as an investigative tool when the physician believes the SI joint is a potential source of pain. They are performed in the same manner as a therapeutic injection, but use only a small amount of numbing agent.
If symptoms clear for patients with a diagnostic injection, it is very likely that the SI joint is the root of pain. Following this, a therapeutic injection can be performed. With therapeutic injections, a larger amount of numbing agent is used along with a steroidal component to provide relief for an extended duration of time lasting between 2 and 3 months in many cases.
What are the risks of Sacroiliac Joint Injections?
There is very low risk associated with an SI joint injection, with the primary risks being infection, bleeding, or soreness at the injection site. There is a small risk of the steroidal component increasing a patients’ retention of water, and it may also raise blood sugar levels. The largest risk is that the injection will not be able to provide relief for patients.
What is the bottom line of Sacroiliac Joint Injections?
SI joint injections are a simple, safe, reliable method of relief for patients who are having pain in the SI joints. The injections are able to provide relief in approximately 75% of our patients.