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Sacroiliac Joint Injection

A sacroiliac joint injection places local anesthetic (pain-relieving medication) in the sacroiliac joint, which is the region of your low back and buttocks where your pelvis joins the spine. Once the sacroiliac joints become painful, they may cause pain in the low back, buttocks, abdomen, groin, or legs. The amount of immediate relief experienced during the injection will help confirm or deny the joint as a source of pain. The cortisone (steroid) will help to reduce any inflammation that may exist within the joint(s).

Procedure preparation

A technologist or nurse will contact you 24-48 hours prior to your appointment to review medications you are currently taking, especially pain medications and blood thinners, discuss known allergies and your medical history, as well as answer your questions.

Contact your doctor before you stop taking any medication.

Please bring previous imaging study results (MRI, CT, x-rays) such as films, reports, or CD-ROMs, if available.

You will need a driver for your appointment. If you are unable to drive or arrange transportation, call us for assistance.

Please notify a member of our staff if you are nursing or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

What to expect during the procedure

You will lie on your stomach on a cushioned table in such a way that the radiologist can best visualize these joints in the back using x-ray-guidance (fluoroscopy).

First the radiologist numbs a small area of skin with numbing medicine (anesthetic). This medicine stings for several seconds.

After the numbing medicine becomes effective, the physician directs a very small needle, using x-ray guidance, into the joint.

A small amount of contrast (dye) is injected to insure proper needle position inside the joint space.

Then, a small mixture of numbing medicine (anesthetic) and anti-inflammatory (steroid) medication is injected. One or several joints may be injected depending on location of your usual pain.

What to expect after the procedure

After the procedure, you will walk around and try to imitate something that would normally bring about your usual pain.

You are then asked to report the percentage of pain relief and record the relief experienced during the next week.

Potential side effects

Steroid medications may cause facial flushing, occasional low-grade fevers, hiccups, insomnia, headaches, water retention, increased appetite, increased heart rate, and abdominal cramping or bloating.

These side effects are bothersome in only about 5% of patients and commonly disappear within 1-3 days after the injection.

Your leg(s) may feel numb for a few hours. This is fairly uncommon, but does occasionally happen.