Treating sports injuries resulting from swinging a tennis racket or repeat action injuries from using a jackhammer at work often result in surgery because the pain and disability eventually persist beyond standard treatments. When topical medications and anti-inflammatories no longer alleviate the joint and soft tissue pain, you may want to consider a different sort of treatment before surgery. This treatment utilizes ultrasound guided injections of specific medications to reduce or eliminate pain.
There are several different treatments that can be applied via an ultrasound-guided approach. They include PRP (platelet rich plasma), A2M (Alpha 2 macroglobulin), cortisone steroid injections, prolotherapy, amniotic fluid, percutaneous tenotomy, fasciotomy, nerve blocks, and even stem cell injections. The following will help you decide which of these injections may help you, as well as more information on the injections themselves and how they work.
How Ultrasound Guided Injections Work
After you and your sports medicine doctor choose an injection type, the sports injury specialist uses a handheld ultrasound device to locate the source of your pain. This could be in a joint or soft tissue near a joint. More often than not, a sports injury treatment with guided ultrasound is the reason why the sports medicine specialist has opted for this procedure over surgery. When the ultrasound is used to guide the injection needle directly through tissues into the painful area a more precise treatment can lead to better results before reaching the point of surgery.
Benefits of This Procedure
Because the ultrasound can “see” where the blood vessels and nerves are, it is easier to avoid these areas when injecting the injured body part. There is less bleeding and less pain, when using ultrasound guidance because the major blood vessels and nerves are bypassed with the help of the ultrasound’s direct visualization of the needle and target on the screen. All you need is a small adhesive bandage when the procedure is done.
The results of these injections, whether they be shoulder injections, knee injections, elbow, hip, ankle, or wrist injections, is that you will be in less pain very quickly. You will find within a week or two of the first injection that joints aren’t as stiff and/or muscles and tendons aren’t as painful. Most commonly your sports medicine physician may recommend more than one injection option based on the diagnosis, and level of pain you experience in the affected area.
The injections are designed to repair injured tissues, reduce joint pain, reduce stiffness, and augment the fluid between bones that helps joints move, and reduce the inflammation affecting joints and soft tissue. Each injection procedure provides unique benefits. For example, PRP is typically used on patients with intermediate to advanced arthritis to reduce joint inflammation which results in additional joint break down, bone-on-bone grating, and arthritic growths associated with osteoarthritis.
You can also preserve joint function. Platelet rich plasma (PRP), and A2M are similar in that they utilize concentrated growth factors or proteins from blood to reduce joint inflammation and break down. Joint preservation is a big reason why weekend warriors and aging athletes resort to these treatments. Hip joint injections and knee injections are the two most common joints targeted for preservation via injection.
However, many patients report returning to activities they love doing within just a few days to few weeks. This beats the months of recovery time and physical therapy required after major surgery, making these injections a very popular treatment option. Contact a sports injury specialist that performs these injections at a sports injury clinic for a better idea of your personal recovery time.
What You Can Expect for Results
Efficacy of your treatments depends on a number of factors. Your age, chronic injury versus a fresh new injury, the healing process and speed at which you heal, the chosen injection type, and even the number of injections you receive impacts results. Your sports doctor can give you a better idea of A) which treatment or treatments will be most beneficial to the pain an location of the pain, and B) how many treatments you may need before most, if not all, of your pain is gone. Overall, a large percentage of patients report satisfaction with injection treatments, especially when the injections are guided by ultrasound.
Are You a Good Candidate?
If you have tried everything short of surgery, and you are in good health for your age, you may want to consider precise ultrasound guided injections by a board certified musculoskeletal ultrasound and sports medicine specialist. Though other doctors may recommend surgery, consider talking to your doctor about ultrasound-guided injections.
Very few other health conditions will prevent you from trying this, but your musculoskeletal specialist can discuss your health and medical history with you to make sure. Schedule an appointment with a sports medicine clinic today to see how these procedures can help you.