For many individuals, sacroiliac joint injections can provide much-needed relief from lower back pain. When the sacroiliac (SI) joints are inflamed, many uncomfortable symptoms can develop as a result. This includes pain and stiffness in the sacroiliac joints themselves, which are located between the bottom of the spine and the pelvic bones. The pain may be sharp or dull and it can move to the buttocks, thighs or groin, usually on one side. The symptoms can make it difficult to participate in normal daily activities. However, there are a variety of surgical and nonsurgical treatment options for SI joint pain, including medical injections.
Injections allow for the direct delivery of medications to the sacroiliac joint
While prescription and over-the-counter medications can be highly effective at alleviating SI joint pain, their anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving compounds travel throughout the entire body, with a small amount actually reaching the joint that requires treatment. Injections, on the other hand, deliver the medications directly to the SI joint where they can start working right away. When administering an SI joint injection, a physician uses X-ray guidance and a small amount of contrast dye to ensure that the medications are being delivered to precisely the right place.
Typically, injections contain a combination of two medications: a short-acting anesthetic and a long-acting corticosteroid. The anesthetic is designed to provide immediate pain relief but tends to wear off shortly after the injection. The corticosteroid, on the other hand, kicks in several days after injection and can continue working for several weeks or several months.
Therapeutic SI joint injections as part of a comprehensive treatment plan
Sacroiliac joint injections are often used alongside other conservative options for pain relief. For instance, a physician may recommend SI joint injections every few months (up to three in a 12-month period), physical therapy every week and over-the-counter medications and hot/cold therapy on an as-needed basis. For many individuals, these treatments are able to help delay — or prevent —the need for surgical SI joint pain treatment.