What should I expect during an SI joint injection?
In an SI joint injection, the doctor will use X-ray guidance to visualize the joint. He or she will clean off the skin overlying the joint, then you will feel a pinch and burn while the doctor numbs up the skin. Then the doctor will place a needle into the joint itself. If the joint is inflamed, oftentimes the patient will experience a familiar zing of pain in the area. It is not uncommon for the patient to say “that’s the spot!”. Then, the doctor will confirm they are in the joint using contrast dye. Once confirmed, the doctor will injection numbing medicine and steroid into the joint.
What should I expect after an SI joint injection?
The SI joint injection is both diagnostic and therapeutic. If this is the cause of the pain, then it should feel better right away while the numbing medicine is working. The numbing medicine wears off after 6-12 hours, and patients may experience a return of their pain. The steroid medications take 3-7 days to treat the inflammation in the joint and give long-lasting relief.
If you do not experience any lasting relief, this confirms that the SI joint is likely the pain generator, but it may be too degenerative or inflamed to respond to steroids. In this case, you may be a candidate for a procedure called an SI neurotomy.