Injections of corticosteroids into damaged tissues or painful joints can provide effective relief from pain and inflammation. Ultrasound helps to improve efficacy of these injections by ensuring that the steroids are delivered to exactly the right place.
At W27 we offer ultrasound guided injections for a range of different and painful conditions. Here we focus on two of the most common – the subacromial bursa and the AC joint.
Conditions that Affect the Subacromial Bursa
A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between soft tissue and bones. There are more than 140 bursae in the body and one of the biggest is the subacromial bursa. This is located below the shoulder blade (acromion) in a space no more than 1-1.5cm wide between the shoulder blade and the ball and socket joint. It sits alongside tendons and rotator cuff muscles.
If the subacromial bursa becomes inflamed it can cause pain and tenderness. This is called subacromial bursitis or shoulder bursitis. It can lead to shoulder impingement syndrome, which is where the soft tissues around the shoulder become painfully pinched when the arm is raised.
Conditions that Affect the AC Joint
The acromioclavicular joint or AC joint is located at the top of the shoulder where the collarbone meets the shoulder blade. The AC joint is covered in flexible articular cartilage which covers and protects the ends of the bones. Pain in the AC joint may be due to injury to the joint caused by weight-lifting or falling heavily onto the shoulder. It normally causes pain on the top of the shoulder above the arm and on the point of the shoulder.
In degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, cartilage in the AC joint may become thin or worn away. This may lead to abnormal bony growths called osteophytes.
How Ultrasound Injections Can Help
Ultrasound injections help to relieve the pain of bursitis and AC joint injury by targeting areas of pain and inflammation with corticosteroids, which help to relieve both so the shoulder can rehabilitate. Physiotherapy exercises following treatment can increase strength and flexibility in the affected shoulder joint.
An injection of steroids administered without ultrasound guidance is around 63-79% accurate. However, with ultrasound to help pinpoint where the needle needs to go, accuracy levels are 90-100%. The procedure is quick (less than half an hour) and safe, with no exposure to radiation. You can go home almost immediately afterwards.
What to Expect from your Ultrasound Guided Injection
The ultrasound guided injection is administered by a consultant radiologist. You will sit on a chair next to the ultrasound machine and the skin above the joint will be cleaned. The ultrasound machine is placed against the affected joint, showing the internal structures on the computer screen. An injection of local anaesthetic is used to numb the skin, followed by the injection of steroid and anaesthetic into the subacromial bursa or AC joint. This may cause a slight stinging sensation but should not be painful.
Afterwards you need to keep the injection site covered and dry for a few hours. Any pain from the procedure will quickly subside. Symptoms may worsen in the short-term but should improve over time, particularly with physiotherapy exercise to support your rehabilitation.
If you are experiencing a painful AC joint or shoulder bursitis, talk to W27 about how ultrasound guided injections might be able to help. Watch our short video for more information.
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.