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Sacroiliac Joint Injection

Treating Patients in North Central Arkansas & South Central Missouri

The sacroiliac (SI) joints are located in the lower back and they connect the spine and the pelvis. These joints, for the most part, are immobile and they support our body weight when standing upright. Due to several medical conditions and the pressure of constantly supporting our body weight, the SI joints can get inflamed and lead to substantial amounts of pain in the groin, hips, butt, lower back, all the way down to the knees. The pain can become amplified when engaging in physical activities or even when you are just walking from place to place. Pain in the SI joints may be temporarily relieved when lying down, however. Arthritis and inflammation located near the SI joints can often lead to a burning feeling or stiffness in the pelvic area. Fortunately, this condition generally does not require surgical operation and it can be resolved by applying anti-inflammatory medication, home exercise in the form of physical therapy, and SI joint injections.

Several medical conditions that are commonly treated using SI joint injections include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pregnancy
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative bone disease
  • Sacroiliitis: Inflammation of the sacroiliac joints
  • Any condition causing an abnormal walking pattern

For more information regarding this procedure, please call Interventional Pain Management, a department of Baxter Regional, at (870) 508-5900.

The Procedure

On the day of your scheduled procedure, please arrive at least 20 minutes prior to the start time. Our nurses will get you set up with an IV if you want sedation and then they will conduct a brief nurse pre-operation assessment. After, you will be directed to lay down in a hospital bed in the procedure room and given nitrous oxide gas and sedation for comfort. At this point, we place a cold cleaning solution on all our patients to lessen the risk of infection. Using x-ray guidance, your doctor will identify the site for the procedure and inject a shot of numbing medication. This shot may sting slightly, but the slight pain will subside briefly. Your doctor will then place the epidural needle into the epidural space, injecting dye to confirm proper needle placement. A mixture of local anesthetics and steroid will be injected into the needle, thereby completely covering the painful nerve fibers. The medication is intended to reduce pain and inflammation and many patients report feeling as if warm water was being run over their back and legs. This feeling is both normal and expected. The needle will then be removed and you will be taken to a recovery room for a brief, 15 minute period of observation. The procedure usually only takes about 10-15 minutes and you will be free to leave and recover in the comfort of your own home, after observation.

What to Expect Afterwards

The effects of the steroid should be felt within three to five days, but it may take up to a week for some patients to feel its complete benefits. Many patients report feeling their pain has alleviated and are able to engage in physical activities they previously were unable to do, as a result of the pain. Most patients’ bodies handle the steroids just fine, but some may experience side effects like anxiety, difficulty sleeping, temporary water retention, and changes in their menstrual cycle. If you are diabetic, you may also experience elevated blood pressure for several days. Fortunately, the side effects are typically mild and will disappear over the course of the next few days.

SI joint injections have been perfected over the past few decades and they are widely considered to be a safe and effective way to treat acute and chronic pain conditions. Medical complications with the procedure are extremely rare, but they could include allergic reactions, headaches, bleeding, paralysis, infections, or damage to the nerves. Although not all patients experience total pain relief with SI joint injections, the injections frequently lead to a decrease in pain levels and improved functionality. Used in conjunction with physical therapy, the beneficial effects of SI joint injections can be felt more strongly. If you believe that you benefit greatly from SI joint injections, you can get repeated injections to maintain your lowered levels of pain and inflammation. In addition to physical therapy, SI joint injections are typically used alongside other medications to help maximize the SI joint injection’s benefits.

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