Sacroiliac Joint Blocks
What is a Sacroiliac Joint Block?
Sacroiliac (SI) joint blocks are injections that are typically used for diagnosing and treating the low back pain associated with sacroiliac joint dysfunction, more common in young and middle-aged women.
The SI joint lies next to the spine and connects the sacrum (bottom of the spine) with the pelvis (hip). The sacroiliac joint is the largest joint in the spine.
Research shows that the sacroiliac pain is very often confused with back pain from the spine.
When is the Sacroiliac Joint Block required?
The SI joint block is performed to relieve pain caused by arthritis in the sacroiliac joint, where the spine and hipbone meet.
In general, a sacroiliac joint block is performed to achieve one or both of the below goals:
- Diagnostic: Diagnostic blocks are administered with the purpose of trying and establishing the exact structural abnormality, which is causing the symptoms. This is also known as finding the ‘pain generator’.
- Therapeutic: In this type of an injection, corticosteroids are injected to reduce the inflammation at the source of the problem that is causing the symptoms.
What is the procedure?
Used for sacroiliac pain syndromes, the procedure for a sacroiliac joint block is aimed at placing the medication into the sacroiliac joint, either on left or on right.
In the SI joint block injection approach, a physician uses fluoroscopic guidance (live x-ray) and inserts a needle into the sacroiliac joint. He then inserts a needle into the sacroiliac joint with a mixture of lidocaine, which is a numbing agent and a steroid (an anti-inflammatory medicine).
An SI joint block injection can be repeated up to three times per year. However, for the treatment to be successful, the injection should be followed by physical therapy and/or chiropractic manipulations to provide mobilization and range of motion exercises.
Do I need to take any precautions?
If you are about to undergo a sacroiliac joint block, it is important that you follow the below listed pre-test instructions:
- Stop blood-thinning medication 2 days prior to the test.
- Do not consume any form of an aspirin product 5 days before the test.
- Stop all anti-inflammatory medication at least 5 days prior tot the test (with the exception of VioxxTM and CelebrexTM .
- Do not drink or eat 6 hours before the test.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home post-test.
What are the risk factors involved?
Though minimal, but the SI joint blocks can lead to a certain set of side effects and complications. Here we list the main amongst them:
- Side effects may occur due to steroids, including blurred vision, frequent urination, increased thirst and change in blood sugar levels, especially in diabetic patients.
- If fever, chills, increased pain, weakness or loss of bowel/bladder function occurs, you should immediately seek medical attention.