Physicians are increasingly using musculoskeletal ultrasound to target and treat pain symptoms, according to John Nicholson, MD, medical director at the Walton Pain Center in Augusta, Ga. The center has reportedly become one of the first in the Augusta area to incorporate musculoskeletal ultrasound into its care of pain patients.
“Musculoskeletal ultrasound offers a number of benefits,” Nicholson says. “It’s easier than an MRI, it’s less expensive, and, for patients, it provides immediate feedback.” He adds, “Patients love seeing what’s happening on a musculoskeletal level in real time.”
To use, therapists trace a wand-like device over any joint to help diagnose new pain problems, such as joint swelling, bursitis, or tissue edema. Ultrasound can also help diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. The wand can pick up internal structures of the nerves, tendons, and ligaments; bones show up as bright white, while fluid build-up are pockets of darkness.
“Musculoskeletal ultrasound lets patients know that their pain is not an abstraction—they actually see it on the screen,” Nicholson says. “So patients who might otherwise ignore their symptoms can see that there is damage, and they need to protect their joint.” Nicholson adds that patients can also see when an injury or pain is not as bad as they thought, which can help them complete their prescribed therapy and work to get better.
Source: Walton Rehabilitation Health System