Our orthopaedic center offers ultrasound evaluation and ultrasound-guided needle injections to help diagnose certain orthopaedic conditions and relieve joint pain. A common cause for a painful joint is when the lining of the joint becomes inflamed, called synovitis. To reduce this inflammation and provide pain relief, medication can be injected directly into the joint or the soft tissue next to the joint. To make sure the medication injection goes precisely into the joint itself where it is more effective, the needle used in the injection is sometimes guided by ultrasound imaging for pinpoint accuracy.
This procedure is most often used in the shoulder, knee or hip, but may also be helpful in other joints. It takes between 15-30 minutes to complete. During the process, a quick scan is done over the joint to decide the exact location of injection. Then your skin will be cleaned with antiseptic to prevent infection and the needle will be placed into the right spot on your skin, using the ultrasound machine to ensure the medication is inserted in exactly the correct position.
There may be some soreness at the injection site for several days afterwards. If your joint pain was caused by inflammation, your steroid injection will begin to relieve that pain within three days after the injection. This relief usually lasts for a few months, so you should speak to your doctor about changes in your pain and discuss a long-term pain management plan.
To further evaluate what could be causing your joint pain, your doctor may use fine needle aspirations. This is a diagnostic procedure used to evaluate the tissue surrounding a joint. Similar to an ultrasound guided needle injection, the fine needle will be placed in the evaluation site and using the ultrasound imaging to guide the needle, your doctor will extract fluid for further review. This will allow your doctor to thoroughly examine the site of your joint pain, and identify and treat the cause.