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Sacroiliac joint injections can confirm — or rule out — a diagnosis of SI joint dysfunction

When working on a sacroiliac joint pain diagnosis, a physician may use targeted injections to help pinpoint the cause of a patient’s symptoms. The sacroiliac (SI) joints are located in the lower back and pelvic region, connecting the bottom of the spine with the ilium (hip bones). If one of these joints becomes inflamed as a result of an injury, excessive use or arthritis, localized pain and stiffness may arise as a result.

In some cases, sacroiliac joint dysfunction can also produce symptoms that travel down the legs. However, this can also occur as a result of sciatic nerve compression and other similar conditions. To determine the most appropriate approach to treatment, a physician will need to accurately diagnose the cause of a patient’s discomfort. Imaging scans are one way to accomplish this, but sacroiliac joint injections may also be recommended for this purpose.

Diagnostic SI joint injections

In a diagnostic SI joint injection, a short-acting numbing agent is injected directly into the sacroiliac joint. The patient may then be asked to bend, twist, walk around the room or perform any other movements that had previously been painful. If the injection helped minimize the patient’s symptoms, a second injection may be performed using a different type of anesthetic. If both injections lead to a significant reduction in pain, a diagnosis of sacroiliac joint dysfunction can be confirmed.

Steps to take after an SI joint pain diagnosis

After a patient has received an official diagnosis, he or she can get started with treatment. At this time, one or more conservative treatments such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy may be recommended. Additional SI joint injections can also be prescribed as a form of treatment. When used therapeutically, sacroiliac joint injections can deliver not only a short-acting anesthetic, but also a long-acting corticosteroid directly to the affected joint. The pain relief that these injections provide can last anywhere from a few days to more than a year.

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