What are Sacroiliac Joints?
The joints that connect the lower spine to the pelvis are called the sacroiliac joints (a.k.a. SI joints). They serve as a critical junction between the lower body and the spine. Although they are joints, they are not like most other joints in the sense that they are fairly rigid, allowing only a few degrees of movement. Due to trauma or just extra mobility, the SI joints can have too much uncontrolled movement leading to abnormal or stressed joint positions. This is often called sacroiliac joint dysfunction and it can cause significant pain in one or both of the sacroiliac joints as well as the lower back, hip, buttocks. It can also cause sciatica, a painful and sometimes debilitating condition.
Symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction can often mimic other back and hip injuries. It can often cause lower back, hip, groin, buttock and sciatic pain. Standing, bending forward, stair climbing and walking typically makes it worse. Lying flat on one’s back can often alleviate the pain. Thankfully, at OmniSpine and Pain Management, SI joint injections are available to effectively diagnose as well as treat sacroiliac joint pain.
How are Sacroiliac Joint Injections Performed?
With the help fluoroscopy (special x-ray imaging), Dr. Morchower injects a local anesthetic into the suspected SI joint. If the pain is relieved with the injection, the diagnosis of sacroiliac dysfunction is confirmed. Once confirmed, a corticosteroid medication is injected to help alleviate inflammation. Typically, a long-acting steroid is chosen to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief for an extended period of time.
Sacroiliac joint injections are safely performed in the outpatient setting, typically takes 20 to 30 minutes, including preparation time, and are followed by a short period of monitored recovery time. General light sedation may be an option and can be discussed at your pre-injection visit. Because injecting corticosteroids into the body can interfere with the body’s own production of steroids, injections are given judiciously, usually limited to three injections in a six-month time frame, two to three weeks apart. Significant pain relief may not be achieved right after the first injection and may take a few weeks or not until after the second injection to take effect.
The results from sacroiliac joint injections can vary from individual to individual but most will feel immediate relief from the local anesthetic (a.k.a. numbing medication). If immediate relief is not felt, that can indicate the source of the pain may not be the sacroiliac joints. The relief from the anesthetic only lasts a few hours but once the steroid medication takes effect, which is usually two to three days after the injection, relief can last for months if not longer.
Longer lasting benefits can be achieved with more advanced, regenerative procedures such as prolotherapy and platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy. These new and innovative techniques reduce pain by promoting healing and thus the potential for permanent improvement.
*Individual Result May Vary*