Unique Advantages of Ultrasound
Ultrasound is a technology for evaluating and treating abnormalities of soft tissues, nerves and joints. X-rays are very good for identifying bone-related problems but of little use in identifying soft tissue. Ultrasound is best for this.
Ultrasound for pain management uses sound waves interpreted through sophisticated software to visualize muscles, tendons, nerves and joint openings. It is completely safe and painless. It has three main uses in pain management.
- Non-Healing and Persistent Injuries
- Persistent Nerve Pain
- Joint Pain
Non-Healing and Persistent Injuries
Injuries to ligaments, tendons and muscles are common pain problems. Common examples include tennis elbow, golfers elbow, rotator cuff pain, biceps tendonitis, abdominal muscle strain and hip-related muscle pain. Ultrasound is extremely helpful to identify the problematic painful area and guide treatment often confirming the diagnosis and allowing a rational treatment plan.
Persistent Nerve Pain
Persistent nerve pain is another common problem. Examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, entrapment of nerves such as ulnar, ilioinguinal, lateral femoral cutaneous and posterior tibial. These problems in order could produce pain, tingling or weakness of the hands, groin, thigh or foot.
Ultrasound is extremely helpful in identifying the nerve and allowing accurate guidance of a needle for injection of medicine. Again this approach allows an accurate approach to nerve-related problems and therefore allows a specific treatment plan. Ultrasound is an imaging approach that allows identification and injection-guided treatment of nerve problems.
Joint pain can also be a problem for a patient. X-rays, CT scans and MRIs are the best modalities for diagnosing changes in joints. Ultrasound, however, can be helpful for guiding a needle into a joint and allowing a precise location of medicine within a specific joint.
Painful problems in muscles, tendons, nerves and joints are often responsive to injection of local anesthetic and steroids as these problems are often inflammatory in nature. This is a common treatment a patient will encounter at NPM and is covered by insurance as is the use of ultrasound.
Other Treatment Options Available at NPM
Sometimes pain occurs because of injury rather than inflammation. Often an injury will respond to time and physical therapy. Occasionally however injured tissue will not heal. There are recent forms of treatment for these types of problems, in particular the use of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).
With PRP, a blood sample is taken from the patient which is then placed in a centrifuge to concentrate and isolate platelets and growth factors. These factors are very potent in this concentrated form in catalyzing the patient’s own healing response. This preparation is then injected into an area of persistent injury usually under ultrasound guidance.
Several examples of injury include patellar tendonitis, lateral epicondylitis or a persistent muscle tear. Over 30 medical articles have been published about this technique. High-profile athletes and professional teams are utilizing this approach and have been written up in the media. PRP is not covered currently by insurance. To learn more, discuss PRP with your provider at NPM.