What is Diagnostic Musculoskeletal (MSK) Ultrasound?

As a patient, the last thing you want is to go through a lengthy treatment plan only to find out you haven't been working on the right thing because the initial diagnosis was not accurate.

You want to make sure that you are getting the right treatment for your pain or injury. Using MSK Ultrasound, your physical therapist will be able to pinpoint the cause of your pain and design a treatment program to address it. This improves the effectiveness of your treatment and means you get BETTER... FASTER.

MSK Ultrasound is a diagnostic tool that allows a physical therapist to see INSIDE your body. This is the same technology used to see babies during pregnancy, only the focus is on seeing your joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments etc.

Benefits of MSK Ultrasound

  • 100% safe - No radiation and No side effects
  • Done in our office so no need to schedule at an imaging center
  • Real time imaging allows the therapist to see the structures as they move, making it ideal for imaging tendons and ligaments
  • Both sides of the body are done in the same exam
  • No need to stay still for 30 min in a loud, claustrophobic tube
  • Inexpensive - usually covered by insurance with the same out-of-pocket expense as a physical therapy session
  • Results are available immediately - No need to wait for a report and then have a follow up appointment at your doctor just to get information


Is It Safe?

Yes! Ultrasound is 100% safe, even for people with pacemakers, joint replacements or other medical conditions.

Do I need a Prescription?

Physical therapists do NOT need a prescription from a doctor to evaluate or treat patients, including with ultrasound. However, your insurance may require it. Our office will verify your insurance before your visit and make sure all the necessary paperwork is in place so you don't have to worry about getting a surprise bill.

How much does it cost?

Ultrasound is covered by most insurances so your cost will generally be the same as with a physical therapy visit.

If you don't have insurance or ultrasound is not covered our office manager will make sure you are informed of any out of pocket cost PRIOR to your session. Ultrasound costs a fraction of an MRI and we offer flexible payment terms to make sure you are able to get the care you need without worrying about the expense.

What can be seen?

Ultrasound is quickly becoming the preferred imaging modality for tendons and ligaments. Muscles, joints, bursae and arthritis are also seen using ultrasound.

However, there are limitations to what can be seen with ultrasound.

Ultrasound does not allow us to see through bone so some fractures are best seen on X-ray.

Also, specific structures inside of joints often require an MRI.

Why not just go get an MRI?

There are a few drawbacks to MRI.

The obvious issues are:

  • They are expensive
  • They are time consuming and often require follow up with your doctor to get results
  • They are loud and claustrophobic

However, there are other concerns with MRI.

  • MRI's reveal EVERYTHING. Unfortunately, the problems seen in an MRI are often NOT the cause of your pain. However, once they are identified they frequently become the focus of treatment
  • MRI produces still images. They do not allow the tendons and ligaments to be seen while they are being stressed or moved.
What is the process?

Your first appointment is a physical therapy evaluation. This is a critical step to ensure that ultrasound is the right imaging modality and the correct images are obtained. Your next visit, if appropriate, is scheduled for the ultrasound. It's that easy!

What to expect

Your therapist will put some gel on the area where the images will be taken. Then, the ultrasound probe is placed on the gel and the images appear on the screen. Once the images are taken your therapist will be able to tell you what they see and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

How to prepare

Ultrasound must be done directly on your skin. Wear clothing that will allow the therapist to access the area.

  • Shoulder - Tank top or sports bra
  • Knee - Shorts or pants that can EASILY be rolled to the mid thigh
  • Ankle - Socks that can be removed and pants that can be rolled up

If you are ready to get real answers… Call and schedule an appointment or CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment online.

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