When you’re getting an injection for tendon or joint pain, you want to know the needle is in the right spot.
That isn’t a given, because the doctor can’t see the injury inside your body.
But a growing number of sports medicine doctors have turned to ultrasound imaging to guide injections. Dr. S. Derrick Eddy of the Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Akron Children’s Hospital has been doing ultrasound-guided injections for 11 years.
By being able to see inside the body, he can pinpoint the pain spot in a joint or tendon sheath, and avoid hitting adjacent nerves or blood vessels. A small probe pressed against the skin allows Dr. Eddy to watch the needle on a video monitor.
“It’s becoming more of a standard of care, recognizing that you want to know where you’re putting the needle,” he said. “Without ultrasound, you can have a miss rate of 30-40%. So you might give an injection and not know if you missed or if it just did not work.”
He most often uses ultrasound for steroid injections, but also for platelet-rich plasma, a treatment using platelets from a patient’s blood to repair damaged tendons, muscle, ligaments and joints.
Conditions treated with ultrasound-guided injections include arthritis (Dr. Eddy sees adult patients), sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, tendinopathy and bursitis.
Ultrasound-guided injections sometimes help patients avoid surgery to relieve musculoskeletal pain, or it will control pain and inflammation until a patient can have surgery.