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Sacroiliac Joint Injection

Sacroiliac Joint Injection

What is it?

A sacroiliac injection is an injection of a steroid or other medication into a sacroiliac joint. The sacroiliac joints are located on either side or the sacrum or tailbone. They connect the tailbone to the pelvis. This injection is used to treat sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction which is a common source of pain in the lower back, buttocks, groin, and legs.

What is the purpose?

SI joints connect the pelvic bones to the spine. They are small and don’t move much, but they absorb all the forces of the upper body before balancing and transferring the weight to the hips and legs. When one or both of these joints become irritated or injured, they can cause chronic discomfort and pain. The steroid injected reduces the inflammation and swelling of tissue in and around the joint space. This may in turn reduce pain, and other symptoms caused by inflammation or irritation of the joint and surrounding structures.

How will it affect my daily life?

Unless there are complications, you should be able to return to your work the next day. The most common thing you may feel is soreness at the injection site. You should have a ride home because the injection could cause some temporary weakness in the legs if the medication spreads to the sciatic nerve in front of the joint. We advise the patients to take it easy for a day or so after the procedure. You may want to apply ice to the affected area. You should perform only those activities you can reasonably tolerate.

What can I expect?

The actual injection takes about 5 to 10 minutes. You will be given relaxing medicine and pain medicine during the procedure if you desire to help make it more comfortable for you. The amount of sedation given generally depends upon the patient. Sometimes patients receive enough sedation that they may have amnesia and not remember parts or all of the actual procedure. Immediately after the sacroiliac injection, you may feel that your pain may be gone or quite less. This is due to the local anesthetic injected. This will typically last only for a few hours. Your pain may return and you may have soreness at the injection site for a day or two. This is due to the mechanical process of needle insertion as well as initial irritation from the steroid itself. You should start noticing pain relief starting the 3rd to 5th day or so.

What are the risks and side effects?

Generally speaking, this procedure is safe. However, with any procedure there are risks, side effects and possibility of complications. The most common side effect is temporary pain at the injection site. Uncommon risks involve infection, bleeding or worsening of symptoms. The other uncommon risks are related to the side effects of steroids, including weight gain, increase in blood sugar in diabetics, water retention, and suppression of body's own natural production of cortisone. Fortunately, the serious side effects and complications are uncommon.