Strong enough to support your upper body weight, your sacroiliac (SI) joints are located where your lower back links to your pelvis. If inflammation occurs around these joints, you may notice localized pain and similar symptoms. Initially, treatment often involves physical therapy and recommendations for lifestyle adjustments, such as losing weight and getting more exercise. However, if you’re not experiencing positive results with traditional conservative care options, you may be a good candidate for SI joint injections.
There are two main ways SI injections can be used if you have discomfort around areas where these two joints are located. These specialized injections can be used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. If the latter is the case, SI injections may make it easier to go about your daily routine without distracting pain.
Injections given for diagnostic purposes are done to determine the exact source of the symptoms, which is important because there are many issues that can contribute to localized lower back pain or radiating discomfort that goes into the buttocks, hips, thighs, or legs. For instance, sciatica or irritation of the piriformis muscle, which is located near the sciatic nerve, can produce similar symptoms. Because symptoms associated with SI joint pain can also be a sign of lumbar disc herniation, which may require artificial disc replacement surgery, Santa Monica residents should make sure to get a proper diagnosis when they have this type of discomfort.
With a diagnostic injection, a local anesthetic is injected into the SI joint space. You’ll then be asked if you notice any improvements after the anesthetic is administered. If relief is reported, it’s likely the SI joints are the main source of your discomfort. A conservative care plan can then be recommended. If there’s little or no relief, other tests can be performed to look for another possible source of your symptoms.
SI injections are only used for therapeutic or treatment purposes after your Santa Monica spine surgeon has performed a diagnostic test to confirm the SI joints are largely responsible for the discomfort. This process also starts with a local anesthetic, which makes the injections more tolerable. Treatment injections also include an anti-inflammatory agent. This medication provides relief that lasts after the local anesthetic wears off. There may be a slight uptick in pain after the local anesthetic wears off and before the medication takes effect, but this is normal.
However, SI injections aren’t meant to be a stand-alone treatment for SI joint pain. If the injections do provide relief, you’ll likely be encouraged to participate more in your physical therapy routine. Doing so can strengthen soft tissues that indirectly support the SI joints. In addition to the injections, some patients also benefit from:
The main goal for any type of SI joint treatment is to relieve pain and restore normal range of motion in the lower spine/pelvic area. As for how many injections are necessary, that will depend on how well you recover and respond to the complementary treatments recommended for you.
SI joint pain is a common occurrence, and joint injections are often able to ease the discomfort. If you’re experiencing pain you suspect is located in your SI joints, don’t wait to contact a spine specialist. The spinal health experts at The Spine Institute can diagnose and treat your condition so you’re back to your normal routine as soon as possible. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 and schedule a consultation.