Sacroiliac joint injections for back pain

February 13, 2020

sacroiliac joint injections for lower back painDo you know where your sacroiliac joints are? While most of us have probably heard the word “sacroiliac,” not many actually know what this is. For those with chronic back pain, it’s worth learning more since sacroiliac joints can sometimes play a role in back pain.

You have two sacroiliac joints located on either side of your spine. They connect the sacrum with the hip on both sides. Joint inflammation and/or dysfunction in this area can cause pain.

One tool we have to diagnose and possibly treat low back pain and sciatica symptoms associated with sacroiliac joint dysfunction is the sacroiliac joint injection. This treatment option is also called a sacroiliac joint block.

Diagnosing the need for a sacroiliac joint injection

If you have chronic back pain, we will perform a variety of diagnostic tests to determine the root problem. If the sacroiliac joint is the suspected problem, this is when we may recommend injections. 

When we perform a sacroiliac joint injection there are two main purposes we want to accomplish. We are trying to diagnose the source of your pain, while also providing therapeutic pain relief. Sometimes, we accomplish both of these tasks with one injection, and other times a patient will undergo a purely diagnostic injection followed by a therapeutic injection for pain relief.

The injection itself involves your doctor injecting a local anesthetic and a corticosteroid into the sacroiliac joint. We perform the injection under fluoroscopy (X-ray guidance) for accuracy. Once the needle has entered the sacroiliac joint, we inject contrast dye into the joint to ensure proper needle placement and proper spread of medication. Next, we inject numbing medication into the joint.

We then ask you to perform movements that typically cause you pain. If you experience greater ease of movement with less pain, it is an indicator to us that the sacroiliac joint is the pain source. We can make a professional diagnosis based on the results of the procedure. Injections for the purpose of treatment are mixed with a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation in the joint for prolonged pain relief. 

Sacroiliac joint injection results

Sacroiliac joint injections are an outpatient procedure that takes around 20 minutes to complete. We do not usually recommend total restricted activity post-procedure, but we do discourage maximum exertion or vigorous exercise. Basically, you will need to take it easy for at least a couple of days, but your doctor can advise you more specifically based on your exact situation.

Typically, our patients report feeling the effects of the injection within 48 hours. Most patients also report pain relief that lasts for several weeks up to a few months. With prolonged pain relief, we often recommend a physical therapy or rehabilitation program to further reduce pain and help you resume your normal activity levels.

If your first sacroiliac joint injection is successful in reducing or eliminating pain for a longer duration, we may be able to repeat the procedure up to three times per year. We will do this in conjunction with physical therapy and rehabilitation.

At Southside Pain Specialists, we have a team of specialized medical professionals who are familiar with and able to perform sacroiliac joint injections at our pain clinic in Birmingham, AL. If you think you may benefit from sacroiliac joint injections or any of the other pain management treatment options we provide, give us a call at (205) 332-3155 or complete our online contact form