The sacroiliac joints represent a significant source of back pain, despite being underrepresented. The human body consists of two sacroiliac joints. They are found on both sides of the pelvis where the sacrum meets, and the joint is the largest axial joint in the body. The joint in capable of rotating on all three axis. Pain can result when there are problems with these joints, and as the joints experience considerable movement in general day-to-day activities the joints are susceptible to arthritis as the human body ages.
It is estimated that up to 25% of lower back pain is caused by issues in the sacroiliac joint area, but diagnosis of issues in the SI joint are difficult to make as issues do not show up on X-Rays, MRIs or CAT scans. Pain clinics will be able to first determine the cause of the pain that a patient is experiencing, and be able to provide relief for that pain. Relief is offered in a number of different ways; however one of the more common forms of treatment is through injection into the joint.
SI Injections – an Outpatient Procedure
With the aid of today’s modern medicine, the injections can be done as an outpatient procedure. The surgeon will numb the skin and the soft tissues in the area. The joints themselves are irregular in shape, and as a result it can sometimes be difficult for the pain clinic to gain entry with the injection.
Once the needle is in the joint, numbing medicine will be put into the joint to ease the pain that the patient is experiencing. Furthermore, steroids will be administered to help with the healing process.
The injections have a very high rate of success. However, they typically only provide a few months of relief. Luckily, the operation can be performed multiple times with ease. Results typically show that 75% of patients will see good results through the injections. Furthermore, doctors can perform lateral branch blocks that typically give pain relief for up to 6 months in 50% of the patients. Lateral branch blocks are also used as a diagnosis procedure to ascertain if pain is coming from the SI joints. Patients can then become eligible for more a more invasive but longer lasting procedure, such as a lateral branch neurotomy.
Overall, there are very few risks involved with injections into the SI joints. In some rare instances, patients may develop an infection or injure a nerve. However, the biggest risk is simply that the treatment will not be effective. There is of course no way of knowing if the treatment will work without going through it, so it is a risk that must be taken by the patient. However, the treat is minimally invasive and doctors agree however those SI injections are a great way to treat the pain that many patients are experiencing, even if it is only a short term solution. Should longer term solutions for pain in the SI joint be required, they are also available.
See Also: The Use Of Medial Branch Pain Management