Need to Know
Nice to Know
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does It Work?
Using image-guidance from fluoroscopy (X-rays that show motion inside your body in real-time) or CT scans, your doctor will place a long needle into your sacro-illiac joint and inject steroid medication to help reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
What Happens — Before, During, and After?
When you arrive for your procedure a clinical staff member will greet you and let the team know you’ve arrived. You will be brought into an exam room and asked to change into a gown. Your doctor will greet you, explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have.
You will likely lie on your abdomen on the exam table for this procedure. Your doctor will clean the area with an antiseptic solution and cover it with a surgical drape. Your doctor will then give you a shot of local anesthesia to numb the area. You will feel a small pinch as the anesthesia is administered.
Once the area is numb, your doctor will use fluoroscopic imaging – which uses X-rays to guide the spinal needle – or CT scans, to administer the medication. Your doctor will slowly guide the needle into the SI joint in your lower back. Once the needle is in place, your doctor will inject the medication. You will not feel pain as the needle is placed but you may feel some discomfort as the medicine enters your SI joint. This should only last a short moment and will most likely dissipate as soon as the injection is complete. Once the medicine has been administered you may feel some tingling. You should tell your doctor if you feel any sharp pain.
In most cases this procedure takes only a few minutes. Once the procedure is complete, the needle will be removed and you will likely have a small bandage over the wound. You may need to stay in the doctor’s office for a short while (perhaps an hour) until you feel ready to go home.
You may feel some difficulty walking or standing up/sitting down immediately after the procedure. This should subside within a few hours. Your doctor will likely tell you to rest for the remainder of the day but you may resume your normal activities the following day.
The SI joint injection may not have immediate pain-relieving effects but you will likely feel lessening pain over the next two days. This pain relief can last anywhere from a few days up to a few months and in some cases longer, depending on your case.
Your doctor will discuss any need for a follow-up visit before you leave.
How Should I Prepare?
There are things you can do to make your experience more comfortable, and many of these will depend on your individual preferences. For example, you may want to arrange to have someone drop you off and pick you up. You might like to keep a list of questions or – as you’re doing now- educate yourself about the procedure.
Another important part of your preparation will be guided by your doctor:
- Your doctor may ask you to stop taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or blood thinners (such as Coumadin, Warfarin, Plavix, Fragmin) for a time before the procedure.
Some of your preparation will need to be timed to the procedure:
- The day before the procedure (or the Friday before, if you’re scheduled for a Monday procedure), a clinical staff member from the Interventional Radiology Department will call you. The clinical staff member will give you any additional instructions, and will ask if you have any questions.
What Should I Bring?
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Avoid bringing jewelry or valuables
What Are the Benefits and Risks?
The benefits of Sacro-Illiac Joint Injection could be:
- Relief of back pain
- Reduced inflammation which may lead to healing
Risks you should be aware of include:
- As with any procedure there is a slight risk of infection
- Rarely, this procedure can cause a temporary increase in pain
- Rarely there are reactions to the pain medication such as rash or hot flashes
- There is a slight risk of nerve damage at the injection site
- There is a slight risk of bleeding
- If fluoroscopy is used, there are risks associated with exposure to X-rays. You should discuss this with your physician
Keep in mind that this information is general. Your radiologist is the best source of information about how these risks and benefits may apply to you.
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