Steroid injections are used to ease pain and reduce swelling in painful joints affected by osteoarthritis as well as treating soft tissue inflammation such as tendonitis. The steroid is normally combined with local anaesthetic to achieve the best results.
In the past, the doctor relied on their own skill and judgment to position the injection but in recent years ultrasound has been used to achieve greater accuracy, thereby improving the effectiveness of treatment. Using an Ultrasound probe, the radiologist is able to watch on the monitor precisely where the needle is positioned within the joint. This allows them to see that the medication is being distributed to where it is most needed.
What are ultrasound-guided injections in the hand and wrist used to treat?
Ultrasound-guided injections may be used to treat a range of different conditions affecting the wrist and hand, including:
- Small joint injections for osteoarthritis at the base of the thumb or CMC joint.
- De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which is inflammation of a group of tendons located in the wrist.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of the median nerve in the wrist.
- Ganglion cysts.
- Trigger finger.
What are the benefits of ultrasound guided injections?
The primary benefit of ultrasound-guided injections is to relieve pain and inflammation and improve mobility of the damaged area. Using ultrasound helps to increase accuracy significantly. For example, without ultrasound guidance, hand and wrist injections are normally 63-79% accurate.
However, with ultrasound to guide the positioning of the injection, accuracy levels are between 90-100%. A study published in Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism in April 2013 compared changes in levels of wrist pain following ultrasound-guided injections and traditional palpation-guided injections across ten separate studies. The authors concluded that the ultrasound-guided injections produced greater reductions in pain and were more likely to achieve minimal clinically important improvement in the one to six-week period after treatment.
Ultrasound-guided injections are quick (the entire procedure takes around 25 minutes from start to finish) and less invasive than surgical procedures. They are safe as there is no harmful radiation (ultrasound uses sound waves).
What to expect from your ultrasound-guided injection
An ultrasound-guided injection normally contains anaesthetic to block pain signals and steroids to reduce inflammation. You will undergo the procedure while sitting in a chair next to the ultrasound machine. First, the skin above the affected joint is cleaned with a sterile solution and injected with local anaesthetic to numb the skin. Next, the ultrasound machine is used to help the radiologist to pinpoint the exact location for the injection. By looking at real-time images on the computer screen, he can see inside your joint and pinpoint exactly where to inject the steroids and anaesthetic for maximum effectiveness. If you are having treatment for osteoarthritis of the thumb, for example, the injection will be given into the CMC joint at the base of your thumb joint.
You will need to keep the wound covered for a few hours afterwards and avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise. You may experience some pain or numbness which will soon subside.
For more information about ultrasound-guided injections to treat joint or soft tissue pain, watch our short video or contact us to arrange a consultation.
SPORTS INJURY TREATMENT | MANCHESTER, LANCASHIRE & CHESHIRE
W27 provides fast, accurate diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal symptoms and conditions using the latest state-of-the-art imaging facilities.
For your appointment there is a choice of locations:
The John Charnley Wing, Wrightington Hospital – Hall Lane, Appley Bridge, Wigan, WN6 9EP
HCA The Wilmslow Hospital – 52 Alderley Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 1NY
Euxton Hall Hospital – Wigan Road, Euxton, Chorley, PR7 6DY
The Spire Manchester – 170 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2AF
The OrthTeam Centre Ohm Building – 168 Barlow Moor Road, Manchester, M20 2AF
MedSerena Upright MRI Centre – 26-28 The Boulevard, Manchester, M20 2EU
Information about our Fees can be found here.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your options with a specialist, please contact the team to book an initial consultation.