Understanding Ultrasound-Guided Injections for Foot Conditions

podiatrist performing ultrasound on patients foot

Ultrasound is most commonly used to get images of a developing child in the womb, but it can also be used in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. In our podiatry offices, we regularly use ultrasound to "see" inside the body while delivering medication, also known as ultrasound-guided injections.

How Does an Ultrasound Work?

Ultrasound technology uses sound waves to create an image based on the density of the object. Sound waves are emitted from a probe placed on the affected area of the body, which pass into the tissues and reflect back to the probe as visual data. The recorded image shows the relative density of each of the tissues, highlighting any anomalies.

In an ultrasound image:

  • High-density objects appear brightest
  • Low-density objects appear darkest
  • Intermediate densities appear in shades of gray

Why Do Podiatrists Use Ultrasound?

Physicians use ultrasound to visualize soft-tissue structures, including tendons, ligaments, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Ultrasound waves produce a video image in real-time, allowing your podiatrist to diagnose and treat the problem quickly.

Ultrasound can be used on a variety of foot and ankle conditions, including:

What Are the Benefits of Foot and Ankle Ultrasound?

Ultrasound provides all of the benefits of an x-ray without the associated risks of radiation imaging. Podiatrists may use it to identify troublesome conditions or even administer the appropriate treatment for them via ultrasound-guided injections.

Podiatrists often use ultrasound to locate and direct injections because of its:

  • Safety. Ultrasounds are painless and suitable for all patients. Since they don't produce any radiation, ultrasounds can be used on patients who are pregnant, have a pacemaker, or have other medical conditions that prevent most types of scans.
  • Minimal preparation. On the day of the procedure, patients can eat and drink normally, take their regular medications, and do not have to ingest or inject any contrast dyes. Patients can even bathe on the day of the procedure as long as the skin is free of lotions and perfumes.
  • Accuracy. The ability to see the needle under the skin allows us to deliver the injection precisely where the medication will be most effective without damaging the surrounding tissues.
  • Effectiveness. Podiatrists have long used cortisone injections for rapid pain relief in a patient's heel, foot, or ankle. When combined with ultrasound imaging, a guided cortisone injection provides more noticeable pain relief than traditional cortisone treatment.
  • Ease of use. Both ultrasound diagnosis and injections can be done in the course of a regular patient appointment. The pinpoint accuracy of the injection ensures minimal downtime for the patient, making recovery faster and less painful than that of a surgical procedure.
  • Fast results. Ultrasound-guided injections are typically quicker and less painful than conventional injections and can be delivered in under 45 minutes.

Let Us Advise You on the Best Course of Action

Ultrasound-guided injections can be highly effective for some patients but may not be appropriate in all cases. For example, pain may increase in the first 24 to 48 hours after treatment due to inflammation at the injection site. Patients are advised to stay off of the affected foot as much as possible in the days after injection to reduce swelling and help the medication penetrate the tissue.

In most cases, injection-site pain subsides after applying ice and taking over-the-counter pain medication. Before you schedule an injection, it's important to meet with our podiatry team so we can discuss all of the options available to you.

Don't waste any more time waiting to get back on your feet! Whether you're suffering from an acute injury or have been trying to overcome chronic pain for some time, our Idaho podiatry team can help you get back to doing the things you love. Simply request an appointment online or speak with our team in either Twin Falls or Burley by calling (208) 731-6321.