SI Joint Injections

Your sacroiliac (SI) joints connect your pelvis to your spine. These joints provide both flexibility and stability. However, when inflammation or other issues develop there, the result can be significant pain and problems with mobility. SI joint injections have been shown to provide relief when you suffer from SI joint pain.

What Are SI Joint Injections?

SI joint injections are injections of steroids and anesthetics that are applied to the SI joint by the pelvis.

SI joint injections can be performed for two purposes: to control pain and to diagnose it. When used as a diagnostic tool, an SI joint injection will be used to determine whether the SI joint is the source of the individual's pain. If the injection provides relief, the pain source is diagnosed and a treatment plan can be created.

When used therapeutically, SI joint injections can often provide immediate relief from pain that is related to the SI joints.

How Are SI Joint Injections Performed?

SI joint injections are performed with the assistance of X-ray guidance. A contrast dye is injected once the needle is in place so that your doctor can see that the needle is properly placed and that the medication is spreading the way that it should.

For a diagnostic SI joint injection, a numbing medication is injected into the joint. Your doctor will then ask you to perform the movements that normally cause you pain. If you find that your pain is reduced or eliminated after the injection, this can lead to a diagnosis of sacroiliac joint dysfunction. More than one diagnostic injection may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

The procedure is the same for a therapeutic injection. However, a steroid is also injected along with the pain medication to provide relief from both pain and inflammation.

Many people who have therapeutic SI joint injections experience immediate relief after the procedure. Your doctor may have you start physical therapy after you have had an injection in order to achieve a better range of movement and to help prevent a reoccurrence of your SI joint pain. If pain returns, you can have SI joint injections up to three times a year.

After the procedure, you may experience some weakness or numbness in the legs. This is temporary and is related to the anesthesia. Some people also experience a temporary increase in SI joint pain that goes away after a few days. Tenderness at the injection site is not uncommon; if this occurs, an ice pack can provide relief.

Conditions Related to SI Joint Injections

SI joint injections can be used to treat a number of types of chronic lower back pain. SI joint dysfunction is a common condition treated with injections. However, because of the overlap in symptoms between SI joint dysfunction and other conditions, SI joint dysfunction can be difficult to diagnose.

SI joint pain can be the result of either a chronic condition or an acute injury. Researchers have found that SI joint pain is associated with a number of other conditions that include:

  • leg length discrepancies
  • scoliosis
  • pregnancy
  • abnormal gait or biomechanics

SI joint pain can be the result of repetitive stress, such as repeatedly squatting and standing while working. It is also a common symptom after a motor vehicle accident or a slip and fall injury.

The pain associated with SI joint problems is typically described as a diffuse pain throughout the lower back. Pain that radiates into the groin, legs or buttocks is also common. It can affect your flexibility, strength, and balance.

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