Can SI joint injections be used to treat lower back pain?
Sacroiliac (SI) joint injections can be performed to diagnose and/or treat SI joint dysfunction. Located in the lower back and pelvis, the sacroiliac joints can become inflamed as a result of several common conditions. Degenerative spine disease, arthritis and traumatic lower back injuries can all lead to SI joint pain.
Chronic sacroiliac pain can make it difficult to work, drive or even participate in day-to-day activities. This makes finding an effective treatment plan particularly important. However, in order to make a proper treatment recommendation, a physician must first accurately diagnose the cause of a patient’s SI joint pain.
What are diagnostic injections?
When inflammation of the sacroiliac joint is thought to be the cause of a patient’s symptoms, a physician may perform an SI joint injection to confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Using X-ray guidance to ensure proper placement of the needle, a physician can deliver a powerful numbing agent directly into a patient’s sacroiliac joint.
Sacroiliac joint injections can produce a significant — and near-immediate — improvement in a person’s symptoms. If such an injection results in noticeable pain relief, it’s highly likely that the targeted joint was the cause of the patient’s pain. A second injection that uses a different type of anesthetic may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
What are therapeutic injections?
Individuals who have been diagnosed with SI joint pain may consider injections of corticosteroids as a potential form of treatment. Some physicians may recommend oral medications first, but then progress to injections if pills do not provide adequate relief. In other situations, patients may receive injections several times per year and use oral medications to control breakthrough pain. Sacroiliac joint injections are usually used as part of a comprehensive conservative treatment plan before surgery becomes a consideration.
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