Sacroiliac Joint Injections (SI)
Used as a diagnostic, sacroiliac joint injections help to determine the cause of back pain. These injections don’t offer long-term relief, but, they will eliminate the pain temporarily. The sacroiliac joint is filled with a medication that not only numbs the joint, but the ligaments and the joint capsule that surround the sacroiliac joint.
The sacroiliac is one of the largest joints in the body and it looks like two gears that have been fit together. There’s very little motion in the joint; what motion does happen involves sliding, rotating, and tilting movements that never really go beyond two or three degrees of motion.
If pain is relieved because of an injection in the sacroiliac, chances are good that this is the affected joint in the spine. This helps the back and neck pain specialists at the Spin Center at Florida Hospital Celebration Health determine the cause of the pain, so proper treatment options can be explored.
How can an injection in the sacroiliac help?
An injection helps the doctors at the Florida Hospital Celebration Health Spine Center determine if one or both sacroiliac joints are causing your back pain. The actual injection will only reduce the pain temporarily, but other treatments (surgical and nonsurgical) will help reduce the pain for a longer period of time.
The injection itself is composed of an anesthetic and cortisone. The anesthetic numbs the area and can last up to six hours. The cortisone is an extremely powerful anti-inflammatory medication and it will help reduce inflammation and swelling in the region. Often, this will help reduce pain in the sacroiliac for several weeks. During this time, you can begin a physical therapy routine in order to strengthen the muscles. When the cortisone finally wears off, you may find the pain is gone.
What happens during the procedure?
If your doctor recommends a sacroiliac joint injection, you will be given an IV with medications required for the procedure, including one to help you relax if you are feeling anxious or stressed.
Your physician will use a fluoroscope (a type of X-ray machine) to view the area and to ensure that the needle is positioned at the right location. Once it is in the right spot, a dye is injected so the physician can see the pathway. Then, anesthetic/cortisone medication is injected and will follow the same path as the dye.
Your doctor will ask you how much the pain has been reduced because of the sacroiliac joint injection. You may even be asked to keep track of your pain levels in a pain diary for the next few hours so your doctor can use it to make informed decisions about your pain management going forward.
Once the anesthetic wears off, you will be able to go home. Most patients can leave within the hour and there aren’t any restrictions following this type of injection. However, you will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment within a week or two of your procedure to check in with the doctor and review your progress.