The Benefits of Ultrasound-Guided Injections to Manage Pain

Anyone who has experienced terrible pain knows the agony – both physical and emotional — it causes. It makes it nearly impossible to function, and most people would do nearly anything to feel better. When that ‘anything’ involves opioids, that opens the door to a whole new set of problems. There is a need for more win-win approaches to pain management, and that is why Community Physicians practitioners use ultrasound-guided injections.

This technology has grown in popularity in recent years, especially as ultrasound machines have become more portable. Clinicians can use this technology to employ real-time, point-of-care ultrasound to guide injections of corticosteroids or other therapies into the knee, shoulder, and hip to address pain due various problems including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle or ligament tears, and tendonopathies. Using ultrasound increases the accuracy of the injections and makes treatments more targeted.  With ultrasound guidance injections are nearly 100% accurate in many instances. Without, accuracy can be as low as 30-40%. Ultrasound-guided injections tell practitioners in real-time how the treatment is being delivered to the intended target.

Among other advantages of ultrasound-guided injections:

  • There is no radiation involved with ultrasound.
  • The ultrasound enables practitioners to visualize the bony joint and surrounding areas. This helps prevent any unintended complications.
  • They have been studied thoroughly and found to have few complications. The risks related to injections in general are low, and the ultrasound may actually help reduce these (e.g., bleeding, infection, damage to surrounding structures).
  • They make it easier to identify fluid and see where it has accumulated in and around joints, tendons, muscles, nerves, and other sound-tissue structures.

Ultrasound-guided injections also are useful in efforts to wean patients off opioids. In recent years, regulators have prioritized efforts to reduce opioid use. In June of the last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a Roadmap Strategy to Fight the Opioid Crisis. The initiative has three areas of focus: prevention, treatment, and data. The use of treatments such as ultrasound-guided injections and nonpharmacologic approaches including cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise are gaining popularity as alternatives to opioids or, at least, as ways to reduce opioid dosages and use.

Community Physicians specializes in pain management. Contact us today to learn more.

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