It may happen during a workout, but also after muscle movement or exertion, that a dull pain appears, sometimes accompanied by the sensation that something is broken. The pain can sometimes immediately make it impossible to move the limb. At the same time, in other cases, it may increase over time, impairing movement.

Muscles, tendons, ligaments, and the other structures in the joint are very resistant to strain, tensile forces, and overloads. However, if subjected to excessive sports training – and thus stress, trauma, or degenerative disease – they are at risk of more or less serious injury. In such cases, the first thing to do is undergo a muscle-tendon ultrasound, allowing the specialist to understand what has happened.

What does this examination consist of, and when is it useful to do it? This article will give you the answers.

Muscle tendon ultrasound: what is it used for?

Muscle-tendon ultrasound is a diagnostic examination that uses ultrasound, or high-frequency (harmless) sound waves, to see and study muscle tissues, tendons, and ligaments. 

Unlike X-rays, which only assess bone integrity – to detect the presence of a fracture, ultrasound investigates soft tissues, i.e., muscles and joint structures such as cartilage, ligaments, or tendons. Muscle-tendon ultrasound is a noninvasive and painless technique. Still, it may induce discomfort if there is inflammation or hematoma due to the device’s pressure on the skin at the point to be observed.

As with any other type of ultrasound, the operator’s experience in ultrasound in that particular area is very important. 

Muscle-tendon ultrasound: When is it needed?

Ultrasound is an examination that is usually prescribed after an orthopedic or sports medicine examination, but the prescription is not strictly necessary. 

If an injury is suspected, ultrasonography is the first-level examination to confirm or eliminate the diagnostic suspicion of: 

  • Muscle strain or suspected tear;
  • Contusion with or without intramuscular or subcutaneous hematomas;
  • Pain from inflammation – such as tendinitis, bursitis;
  • Cysts in the hand, fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder, knee, ankle, and foot. 

Achilles tendon injuries and shoulder rotator cuff injuries are the most frequently investigated and diagnosed among tendons.