Thomas Jefferson University Hospital researchers tested the ultrasound therapy on more than 300 people for the study, which was presented this week at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago.
The ultrasound can be used to treat chronic tendon problems that may not warrant surgery but that can cause bothersome symptoms. The treatment provides relief with minimal disruption to the patient's life.
The ultrasound is used to get a clear image of abnormal tendons, to identify areas of scar tissue on tendons, and to determine if the scar tissue is infiltrated with calcification.
Needle therapy, using a local anesthetic, is then used to treat the tendon problem. The needle is guided by ultrasound to areas that contain scar tissue. The needle tip is used to break up the scar tissue and any calcification. In some cases, cortisone-like medication is injected into the area.
The needle therapy encourages blood vessels to enter the affected area and that lets the body dissolve scar tissue and build new, healthier tissue.
The study found that about 65 percent of those treated (151 males, 155 females, aged 13-82) reported improvement. The study participants had various tendon, muscle and ligament injuries such as tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, jumper's knee, hamstring and rotator cuff injuries and Achilles tendon problems.
None of them had responded to other therapies such as medication, bracing, physical therapy or rest. They'd had symptoms for periods ranging from three months to 15 years.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about tennis elbow.