The sacroiliac joint, or SI, is located at the bottom of the spine, just above the tailbone and below the lumbar spine. It is the joint that connects the sacrum and pelvis. Due to certain reasons, the joint can suffer from an injury or dysfunction. This sacroiliac joint dysfunction is often the cause of low back pain and leg pain, which can be very discomforting and difficult for the person. To know more about sacroiliac joint, you can read our post “Facts you Should Know About Sacroiliac Joint“.
The joint may be small, but it plays a huge part of the body structure. It balances, supports and distributes the weight of the upper body down to the hips and legs. It serves as a shock-absorbing structure, with help from the durable ligaments surrounding it. This is why when it suffers from a dysfunction, the lower back and legs are pretty much affected.
Treatment for Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Although experts believe that sacroiliac joint dysfunction is one of the main suspects of low back and leg pain. This is kind of difficult to diagnose. But this is now made possible by the sacroiliac joint injection.
There are various ways to treat and alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by this dysfunction. The most effective and commonly used treatments are non-surgical, ranging from the basic ice and heat application, taking certain medications to innovative injections.
- Ice and Heat
This is standard procedure. This does not really treat the dysfunction, but this helps ease the pain and reduce the irritation. Initially, use ice or cold packs and apply it on the affected area for about 15 minutes. This will reduce the irritation and inflammation. You can continue applying until two weeks. After this initial treatment, it’s time to apply heat. This will help in the healing process for the acute and high intense pain. During such time, rest is highly advisable.
Certain medications will also give temporary relief from the pain and discomfort. The most common pain medications include naproxen, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. But these meds are best taken with extra caution and with approval from a doctor.
- Physical Therapy and Exercise
Any treatment is best when coupled with physical therapy and exercise. These will help strengthen the ligaments and muscles surrounding the sacroiliac joint. Physical therapy will help increase the range of motion in the affected area. Low impact aerobic exercise is also a big help. This will increase a healthy flow of blood in the area, which is vital to the healing process.
- Sacroiliac Joint Injections
This is the fastest and most common treatment for sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Basically, an anesthetic such as lidocaine is injected into the affected area. An anti-inflammatory medication will also be injected. These will reduce the inflammation quickly and provide fast relief to the patient. And with proper exercise and physical therapy, the patient will regain control of his active life in the soonest time.
SI Injection Basics
The sacroiliac joint injection procedure has two functions: diagnosis and treatment. The injection can be used to determine the source or main cause of the patient’s pain, and to confirm if it’s really due to a joint dysfunction. The other purpose is to provide therapeutic relief for the pain.
SI joint injection is the most efficient way to diagnosis SI joint dysfunction. The process involves injecting the area with a local anesthetic. This is made under X-ray guidance to ensure accuracy in the diagnosis. After injecting the numbing medication, the patient is asked to perform movements which would normally produce pain in the affected area and its surroundings. If the patient experiences pain relief of about 75 to 85%, the patient is then temporarily diagnosed with sacroiliac joint dysfunction. To confirm this diagnosis, the patient will be injected with a different numbing medication and asked to repeat the same procedure.
- Pain Relief
This is performed with the same technique used in diagnostics. However, for therapeutic SI joint injection, aside from a numbing medication, an anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroid is also injected into the affected area. This will effectively reduce the inflammation within the joint.
If the therapeutic injection proves to have prolonged effect on the patient, the patient can schedule another shots of the injection for up to three times a year. This will provide relief for a longer duration. To achieve best and fast results and to ensure that the patient will regain normal activity fast, this must be done in conjunction with a rehabilitation program and physical therapy.
Sacroiliac Joint Injection Side Effects
SI joint injection is generally safe. However, some patients may experience relatively minor side effects which only occur infrequently. The side effects may include the following:
- Possible allergic reaction to the medication injected.
- Soreness and sometimes temporary bruising of the injected area.
- Minor injection in the injection site or nearby area.
Overall, injection is still the best available treatment and diagnostic procedure for sacroiliac joint dysfunction. This may not make the dysfunction go away forever; at least you will get to live a normal life back. You will get to enjoy your active life free from pain and discomfort. If you are suffering from a low back and leg pain, have it checked. Arizona Pain and Spine Institute does diagnostic and therapeutic sacroiliac joint injection. Visit any of our offices today.