Sacroiliac Joint Injections: What to Know About the Process and How to Prepare

The sacroiliac joint linking your pelvis and lower spine is the largest joint in your spine. Strong ligaments hold the two sections of the joint in place on both sides of the back. The joints support the weight of the upper body when one is standing. Inflammation of the joint, located above the tailbone in the lower spine, can cause pain in the buttocks and lower back. The pain can also extend down one or both legs. 


What Are Sacroiliac Joint Injections?


These are injections of steroid medication and local anesthetic into the sacroiliac joint. Following the injection, you may experience temporary pain relief, thanks to the numbing agent used during the procedure. Once it wears off, you will likely experience pain again. However, the steroid medication in the injection starts working after one or two days, giving longer-lasting pain relief.


Are you considering getting a sacroiliac joint injection to relieve your lower back pain? If you are, you must first inform your doctor about any existing health conditions. For your safety, your doctor will not give you the injection if you have an infection, very high blood pressure, fever, cold, or flu. Also, you should not get the injection if you are on blood thinners. 


Why You Might Need a Sacroiliac Joint Injection


Your doctor might recommend this procedure to diagnose or treat pain in your sacroiliac joint. The specialist who administers the injection may also use X-rays to determine where to place the needle. This will ensure the medicine goes directly to the affected joint. Besides treating the pain in your sacroiliac joint, steroid medicine decreases inflammation in the joint.


Risks of Sacroiliac Joint Injections


As with most minimally invasive procedures, there is a slight risk of allergic reactions, infection, or bleeding. Due to the numbing medicine, you may also experience short-term symptoms such as temporary weakness and numbing in your legs. 

So, you may need to remain in your doctor’s office until the weakness and numbness subside. This usually takes several hours. You may experience increased pain at the injection site for several days after the injection. If you have diabetes, you may experience a short-term elevation of blood sugars due to the steroid medication.


Does the Procedure Hurt?

Most patients experience a burning or stinging sensation due to the numbing medicine. However, it only lasts a few seconds. That said, you should understand that every patient is different, and so is every patient’s response to any medical procedure.


How to Prepare

Before undergoing the procedure, you should avoid fluids and solid foods after midnight unless directed otherwise by your doctor. Do you have some medication to take? If so, use a small amount of water. 

Are you a diabetic? If you are, avoid taking your medication until after you get your sacroiliac injection. If you are on any thinning blood medication, you must discontinue it well before your procedure, as directed by your pain management doctor. But before discontinuing any medication, consult your primary care physician. 

For more information on sacroiliac joint injections, contact Alicja Steiner, MD APC, at our San Diego, California office. Call (619) 304-1539 to schedule an appointment today.

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