Professional and amateur athletes alike can suffer joint injuries from an unfortunate hit, twist, or turn; or even from repetitive and strenuous use. Joints are resilient but also quite complex, and they can be damaged in the course of pursuing activities that push your body to its limits. The field of sports medicine specializes in caring for athletic injuries to minimize downtime, optimize healing, and enhance performance. The relatively recent implementation of ultrasound-guided injections improves the effectiveness of several injection treatments, so patients can get back in the game sooner.
Corticosteroid injections are one of the most effective treatments for joint pain and swelling. Combined with a local anesthetic, cortisone provides lasting relief from arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, or other overuse injuries. Immediate relief from the anesthetic is followed by fast reduction in swelling. Although steroid injections are generally quite successful, the frequency of the treatment is limited due to possible side effects. Cortisone shots are most effective when the medicine is introduced precisely at the area of injury.
Runners and other athletes whose knees take a beating may find arthritis developing long before they’re ready to sit on the sidelines. Degradation of cartilage can cause friction in the knee so painful that it forces many athletes to hang up their sneakers. Viscosupplementation is the injection of a lubricating substance into a joint (usually the knee) to restore pain-free function. Fast and long-lasting results can see you back in play just a short time after treatment.
Ultrasound provides real-time imaging of the soft tissue and bones inside your body. Unlike light-based imaging like X-rays, there is no radiation emitted. Viewing the affected area on the monitor, the physician can place the needle in the exact spot where medicine is most needed. Research has shown that ultrasound-guided injections provide greater pain relief than landmark-guided (blind) injections.
Having an enlarged “map” of the inside of your joint on a monitor means that the needle used can be smaller and narrower since there is no guesswork involved in the placement of the medicine. Smaller needles mean less pain and danger of infection at the injection site. Any risk of adjacent tissue absorbing the medication is largely eliminated.
Ultrasound can also help to confirm a diagnosis before the injection is given but at the same time as the procedure. If the orthopedic physician has the ultrasound and monitor set up in the office, you save even more time by not needing an appointment at a hospital or surgical center. See it, then treat it.
Being able to see the inside of your joint can also serve to direct your future activities to avoid additional damage. Preventing injury is the best cure and avoids pain, the cost of treatment, and downtime.
Dr. William F. Hefley, Jr. of Little Rock, Arkansas, offers in-office ultrasound-guided injections for sports-related or other joint injuries. Dr. Hefley is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with expertise in sports medicine for all kinds of athletes. If you suffer an accident or injury from playing a sport you love, let Dr. Hefley get you back in the game at your best performance level ever. For an appointment at our convenient Little Rock or North Little Rock location, call (800) 336-2412.