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The large joint that joins the base of your spine to your pelvis is called the sacroiliac joint. There are actually two joints – one on the right and one on the left.

Arthritis, wear and tear or a strain in this area can cause lower back and leg pain (sciatica). If conservative methods to treat this pain are not successful your consultant may recommend a sacroiliac joint injection.

What happens during sacroiliac joint injections?

Sacroiliac joint injections take just a few minutes. They are usually performed in an operating theatre by a special team. You will be asked to lay on your front. An anaesthetist will insert a tiny needle into the vein in the back of your hand to give you medication for pain or to help you relax. You will need to remain awake during your injection so that your consultant can ask you questions.

Your consultant will insert a local anaesthetic into the area to be injected. Using an x-ray machine the consultant will locate the exact point in the joint to be injected. They will insert a contrast dye to confirm that any medication injected will flow around the correct area. They will then guide a needle into the joint and inject medication.

Two types of medication may be used:

  • A local anaesthetic may be injected for temporary pain relief to help confirm what area of the sacroiliac joint is causing the pain. This is called a diagnostic injection
  • An anti-inflammatory medication may be injected to reduce inflammation and reduce pain over a longer period. This is called a therapeutic injection.

After sacroiliac joint injections

Your consultant may ask you to perform activities that would normally cause you pain. They will note your level of pain.

You may be asked to wait in a recovery area to confirm you will not have any reaction to the medications used or until any sedation has worn off. You will not be able to drive so please arrange for someone to drive you home. You should rest the day of your injection and the day after your injection if possible. 

Drink plenty of fluids to help flush any dye used from your body.

Following your injection your consultant may recommend physiotherapy.

The level of pain relief provided by sacroiliac joint injections varies. Be sure and discuss any concerns you have with your consultant.

As with any procedure there can be complications. These could include:

  • Reaction to medications used
  • Bruising or soreness
  • Infection at the injection site
  • Numbness or nerve damage

Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns with your consultant?

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