Sacroiliac Joint Injection for Relief of Low Back Pain
The sacroiliac joints are large joints in the lower back where the pelvis joins the spine. These joints are responsible for absorbing shock forces of the upper body, while balancing and transmitting body weight to the hips and legs. Inflammation of these joints from a fall, an accident or twisting of the trunk may cause pain. The pain can be felt as the buttock pain, low back pain, leg pain and groin pain. Sacroiliac joint injections are used to treat patients suffering from this pain. Additionally, the injections can be used as a diagnostic tool to determine whether or not the pain actually does stem from the sacroiliac joints.
Using X-Ray guidance, the doctor will place a needle in the sacroiliac joint and then inject a local anesthetic and steroid solution to the affected joints to help reduce inflammation and control pain. The local anesthetic is administered with the steroid to achieve immediate pain relief and also confirms the diagnosis. Sometimes, a small amount of contrast dye is injected before the medication to confirm proper placement of the needle.
Like most procedures, there are risks involved with sacroiliac joint injections. These risks are small and include temporary discomfort, bleeding, infection, and worsening of pain. Patients on blood thinners will have to check with their primary care physician about the safety of temporarily stopping the medication prior to the procedure. Injections are not given more than two times in six months due to the potential side effects of steroids which include weight gain, fluid retention, increased blood sugars, irritability and insomnia.
After the injection, you may initially experience a temporary relief from the pain. It is normal however to experience pain for a day or two after the injection due the needle insertion and irritation from the steroid. Ice may be applied to the insertion site, and the pain should diminish after a couple of days. Regular activity can be resumed one day after the procedure. The steroid effect peaks within 1-2 weeks after the procedure, and can provide significant pain relief for up to several months.