FAQs on Sacroiliac Joint Injection in Colorado
The sacroiliac (SI) joint injection is used to treat very low back pain, which occurs with SI joint dysfunction. The SI joint procedure is done at the doctor’s office or in an outpatient facility.
What are the sacroiliac joints?
The sacroiliac joints are tiny joints that lie next the spine. The SI joint connect the sacrum (lower spinal bone) with the hips on both sides. There are two SI joints, and they are lined with articular cartilage. Joint inflammation and dysfunction can cause low back pain.
What is the purpose of the sacroiliac joint injection?
The purpose of the SI joint is two-fold: to diagnose the cause of the patient’s pain and to provide therapeutic pain relief. The doctor often combines the diagnostic and therapeutic joint injections. Usually, both joints are injected at one procedure setting.
How do I prepare for the SI injection?
Before the procedure, you will first meet with the pain management specialists to discuss the procedure risks and benefits. The doctor will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your health. Once you sign a consent form, the procedure is scheduled. Do not take any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, or blood thinners for 7 days before your procedure. Because a sedative is used, you cannot drive after the procedure, so arrange to have transportation home.
How is the sacroiliac joint injection done?
The sacroiliac joint injection procedure only takes around 10 minute, but expect to be at the medial facility for 1-2 hours (preparation time, procedure, and recovery time). The procedure involves:
- After being positioned face-down on the radiography table, the nurse cleans the lower back with an antiseptic.
- Monitoring devices are attached to the arm and finger to assess pulse rate and blood pressure.
- A mild sedative is given in the IV line.
- The skin and deeper tissues may be numbed using an anesthetic.
- The procedure needle with catheter is inserted under real-time x-ray, and contrast dye is injected to verify needle placement inside the SI joint.
- A local anesthetic and corticosteroid may be injected to help with post-procedure pain and inflammation.
- The needle is removed, and a bandage is applied.
- The procedure is repeated on the other joint.
What happens after the sacroiliac joint injection procedure?
A nurse will monitor your condition for 45-75 minutes as you awake from sedation. Expect some mild tenderness at the injection sites. You should rest for a couple of days, and avoid rigorous activities for 4-5 days. Gradually return to usual activities, and avoid lifting heavy items.
What results can I expect after the SI joint injection?
In clinical studies, the efficacy rate of the SI joint injection procedure is 75-90%. The anesthetic offers immediate pain relief, and the corticosteroid agent begins to work after 48-72 hours. Because the steroid decreases inflammation, long-lasting pain relief occurs. A recent study involving SI joint injection under CT-guidance involved 46 patients with a mean age of 53 years. The results showed that only 20% of patients required a second injection, and 90% reported significant improvement in pain. In addition, the effects lasted for two years.
How many SI joint injections can I have?
The doctor can give you another two SI injection if the first two do not work. If you have pain relief, the doctor may offer a radiofrequency ablation procedure to destroy the nerves that supply the joints.
Sahin O, Harman A, Akgun RC, & Tuncay IC (2012). An Intraarticular Sacroiliac Steroid Injection Under the Guidance of Computed Tomography for Relieving Sacroiliac Joint Pain: A Clinical Outcome Study with Two Years of Follow-Up. Rheumatology, 27(3), 165-173.