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Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 00:55 GMT
Relief in sight for sports injuries
The procedure takes just 10 minutes
Many people with 'tennis elbow', Achilles heel and other sports injuries may no longer need to undergo surgery.

Doctors in the United States have found that ultrasound can be used to identify those who really need an operation.

This enables them to use a simple needle procedure on those who do not require surgery.

This procedure provides effective treatment to patients who may not have been able to get relief

Prof Lev Nazarian
The doctors said their technique can help patients to recover more quickly.

Professor Lev Nazarian and colleagues at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia tested the procedure on more than 400 patients.

Identify injuries

They used ultrasound to get a better image of abnormal tendons. This enabled them to identify tendons containing scar tissue and to spot injuries that may require surgery.

They were also able to help those who surgeons would not have considered as suitable for an operation.

These patients had needle therapy. This involves inserting a thin needle which is coated in a substance derived from cod liver oil and an anaesthetic.

Studies have shown that this procedure, which takes about 10 minutes, can help to significantly strengthen tendons by encouraging healing.

The needle can also be used to break up calcium, which sometimes gathers around the injury.

"Once we see the abnormality on the ultrasound, we can make a diagnosis right away and tell exactly what is wrong. Additionally, we can treat the problem immediately," said Professor Nazarian.

"The procedure encourages blood vessels to enter the area and enables the body to dissolve the scar tissue and lay down new, healthier tissue."

He added: "After the procedure, stretching and physical therapy encourage this tissue to become more elastic and lengthened, enabling the tendon to function more normally."

Professor Nazarian said many of the patients involved in the study were able to resume sports after 12 weeks. Overall, two out of three people benefited.

"This procedure provides effective treatment to patients who may not have been able to get relief, with minimal disruption to a patient's life," he said.

See also:

31 Jul 02 | Health
31 May 00 | Health
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