What are Sacroiliac Joints?
Sacroiliac joints are a pair of joints located at the base of the spine where the sacrum (the triangular bone at the bottom of the spine) connects to the ilium (part of the pelvis). The sacroiliac joints play an important role in supporting the upper body and transferring weight from the spine to the lower limbs during movement.
These joints have a limited range of motion but can become painful due to injury, inflammation, or degeneration.
What are Sacroiliac Joint injections?
Sacroiliac joint injections involve the injection of local anaesthetic and steroid directly into the joint space to numb the pain and decrease inflammation.
The aim of both procedures is to evaluate whether the Sacroiliac Joint is the source of pain. If the injections relieve pain, it indicates that the Sacroiliac joints are causing discomfort. The results of these procedures can then be used to determine appropriate treatment options.
Radiofrequency ablation may be a suitable long-term treatment option if the block effectively reduces pain.
What happens before the Sacroiliac Joint injection?
Before the procedure, the patient will typically undergo a thorough evaluation by a specialist to determine the underlying cause of their pain and whether a Sacroiliac Joint injection is an appropriate treatment option.
This evaluation may include a physical exam, medical history review, and diagnostic tests such as imaging studies (e.g., X-rays, MRI, and CT scans).
If the specialist determines that a Sacroiliac Joint Injection is appropriate, the patient will typically receive instructions on preparing for the procedure. This may include:
- Discontinuing the use of blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin, for a specified period before the procedure
- Do not stop any medication before talking to us.
- Arranging for someone to drive them home after the procedure.
- Inform us of any allergies, medications, or medical conditions you have. If there is an active infection, the procedure is not carried out.
What happens during the procedure?
The Sacroiliac Joint Injection is an outpatient procedure that is conducted in the hospital under local anaesthesia and sometimes under sedation.
The procedure is performed in a fluoroscopy(X-ray) room. Although the injections only take a short time, the entire procedure may last up to 30 minutes.
During the procedure, the patient will be asked to lie on their front, and the doctor will take measures to ensure their comfort. The doctor will clean the skin of the neck or back area with antiseptic and cover it with sterile drapes. Local anaesthesia will then be injected into the skin to numb the area.
Next, the doctor will use X-ray images to guide the needle to the correct position. Finally, a mixture of local anaesthesia and steroid will be slowly injected into the Sacroiliac Joint.
After the procedure, which usually takes around 30 minutes, the patient will be monitored briefly and then typically allowed to go home within half an hour.
During the procedure, your vitals are continuously monitored.
What can I expect after the injection?
The injection of local anaesthesia may result in immediate symptom relief.
On the other hand, the steroid medication usually takes two to three days to start taking effect and may peak at one to two weeks. It's important to continue regular pain relief medication as needed.
The success of the injection in reducing pain and its duration may vary from person to person.
What are the potential side effects of the procedure?
The most frequently observed side effect of the injections is mild tenderness and/or bruising at the injection site, which typically resolves within a few days. Individuals may sometimes experience increased pain for a few days following the injection, but this should subside.
Although uncommon, more severe side effects, such as bleeding, infection, nerve damage, or an allergic reaction to the medications used during the procedure, may occur.
Although rare, seeking medical attention promptly is important if you feel unwell.
Please follow the BASS (British Association of Spinal Surgeons) website for more information.
Learn about about condition:
Sacroiliac Joint Pain: Discover the causes and management of pain in the sacroiliac joint.