Facet/Sacroiliac (SI) Joints

Download/print the Facet/Sacroiliac Joint Injection patient information sheet

What is a facet/sacroiliac joint injection?

Facet and sacroiliac joint injections are procedures performed in an effort to relieve or eliminate pain. Facet joints are located on the back of the spine on each side, where one vertebra slightly overlaps the adjacent vertebra; they guide and restrict movement of the spine. A sacroiliac joint (SI joint) is the space between the spine and pelvis.

How should I prepare for my procedure?
  • If you have an active infection and are taking antibiotics, the medication course must be complete prior to the procedure.
  • Facet injections only: If you are taking blood thinners (Coumadin, Plavix or Ticlid), you will have to stop the medication prior to the procedure. Contact your healthcare provider before stopping any medication to determine if it is safe for you.
  • Inform us if you are or may be pregnant, or have allergies to medications or x-ray dye (contrast).
  • Arrive 15 minutes early to complete registration.
  • Bring your insurance card and a valid photo ID.
How long will my procedure take?

A facet/sacroiliac joint injection will take approximately 30 minutes.

What happens during my procedure?

You will be positioned on your stomach on an x-ray table. The fluoroscopy camera will be positioned above you. The area to be injected will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution. Local anesthetic will be applied to numb the area.

A small needle will be placed into your facet or SI joint(s). The location of the needle will be confirmed by injecting a small amount of x-ray contrast. Some patients feel a slight pressure sensation or discomfort while the contrast is being injected. Next a combination of anesthetic and steroid preparation will be injected.

What happens after my procedure?

A summary of the procedure will be sent to your healthcare provider.

Unless directed otherwise, you may resume your normal diet, prescribed medications and activities, although rigorous activities should be avoided until the next day. 

As the anesthetic that was injected wears off, your symptoms may return and may be worse for 1-2 days until the steroid takes effect. You may feel soreness at the needle insertion site for 2-3 days. You can use an ice pack for up to 15 minutes per hour to relieve any discomfort.

In some patients, a single injection will give permanent relief. Many patients require multiple injections. In patients where inflammation is not a contributing factor to the pain, this injection may not provide any relief.

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