Sacroiliac Joint Injection
What is a sacroiliac joint injection?
A sacroiliac joint injection is used to diagnose or treat lower back pain that comes
from your sacroiliac joint. This joint is the place where your spine connects to your
pelvis. For the procedure, your healthcare provider injects medicine directly into
the joint to ease pain.
Why might I need a sacroiliac joint injection?
Your healthcare provider might do a sacroiliac joint injection to diagnose or treat
pain that may be coming from your sacroiliac joint. This joint connects the bone at
the base of your spine (sacrum) to the large pelvis bones (ilium). You have two sacroiliac
joints, one on each side of the body. They connect the sacrum to each side of the
pelvis. These joints act as shock absorbers. They transmit weight and forces between
the upper body and the legs.
Some pain in the lower back, buttock, or hip may come from these sacroiliac joints.
A sacroiliac joint injection is a good way to find out whether your pain is from a
problem in the sacroiliac joint. The procedure can also help to treat pain from that
For this procedure, your healthcare provider injects numbing medicine (local anesthetic)
into the joint. He or she may use X-rays (fluoroscopy) to show where to place the
needle. He or she may also use a small amount of X-ray contrast dye. It can help make
sure the needle is in the right place so that the medicine goes directly into the
There are two types of sacroiliac joint injections. During a diagnostic injection,
the healthcare provider injects only numbing medicine into the joint. If your pain
eases, then your sacroiliac joint is likely the cause of your pain. A therapeutic
injection uses numbing medicine and steroid medicine to treat pain that comes from
the sacroiliac joint. It decreases inflammation in the joint.
What are the risks of a sacroiliac joint injection?
Sacroiliac joint injections are generally safe. Some possible risks of the procedure
Infection at the injection site
Bleeding at the injection site
Allergic reaction to the medicines
If you get steroid medicine in your shot, you may have some side effects. These include
temporary increases in blood sugar levels for 1 to 2 days, an allergic reaction, and
flushing of your face.
You may have other risks based on your specific situation and other health problems.
Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider beforehand.
How do I get ready for a sacroiliac joint injection?
You will need to go over your past health with your healthcare provider. Let him or
her know if you have an infection, fever, or any other recent health problems. If
you have diabetes or use any blood-thinning medicines, check whether you need to take
any special precautions.
You should also discuss all your medicines with your healthcare provider. You may
need to stop taking certain medicines a few days before the shot. Also be sure to
tell your healthcare provider if you:
Your healthcare provider may tell you not to eat or drink after midnight the night
before the procedure. You may get medicine to help you relax during the injection.
You should arrange to have someone drive you home afterward. Your provider may give
you other instructions about how to prepare.
What happens during a sacroiliac joint injection?
Your exact procedure may differ. But general steps for a sacroiliac joint injection
are the following:
You will lie face down on an X-ray table.
You may get medicine to help you relax (sedation).
The skin on your lower back and buttocks will be cleaned.
The healthcare provider will use medicine to numb the skin around the injection area.
The provider puts the needle tip into the sacroiliac joint. He or she will use X-rays
to guide the needle. You may have pain in this area as the needle enters the joint.
The provider injects the X-ray contrast dye. It will confirm that the needle tip is
in the joint.
The provider injects the medicine into the joint. This medicine may include local
anesthetic to block the pain. It may also include a steroid to reduce inflammation.
You may feel a stinging or burning during the shot. This sensation usually lasts just
a few seconds.
The needle will be removed and a bandage applied.
What happens after a sacroiliac joint injection?
You will be watched for about half an hour after the procedure. Then someone can drive
you home. Ask your healthcare provider about any activity restrictions after the procedure.
You should also ask if it is OK to use heat or ice in the area of the shot and if
it is safe to bathe that day. Make sure to follow all your healthcare provider’s instructions
for care, including any directions about your medicines.
You may be sore from the injection. You may also have some slight weakness in your
leg for a few hours after the shot. If your pain comes from the sacroiliac joint,
you may feel pain relief in the hours after the procedure because of the numbing medicine.
As it wears off, the pain may start to feel worse.
If your healthcare provider gives you a steroid medicine, it may take up to 7 days
for the medicine to start reducing pain and inflammation in the joint. As a result,
you may feel better for the first few hours after the shot. But you then have more
pain for a few days before the steroid starts working.
Your healthcare provider might ask you to keep a diary of your pain after the injection.
A diary can help find out if your pain comes from the sacroiliac joint. It can also
be used to decide how helpful an injection may be in the future.
You should call your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms:
Weakness or numbness in the leg that lasts more than a few hours
Signs of infection at the injection site. These include redness, swelling, and oozing.
Your healthcare provider can tell you more about what you should do and what you can
expect after the sacroiliac joint injection. You will need to see your healthcare
provider to talk about the effects of the procedure and make a plan for future treatment
of your pain.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
When and how will you get the results Who to call after the test or procedure if you
have questions or problems
How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure