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Ultrasound Offering Arthritis Patients Some Relief

PITTSBURGH (CBS) -- Doctors have found a new way to diagnose and treat arthritis, and the technology is saving doctors and patients both time and money.

Rita Tikofsky has been living with pain. She has arthritis that gets especially bad in her shoulder.

"If I'm extending it and using it for anything such as reaching for a high shelf or opening one of the heavy doors," says Tikofsky.

But the new use of an old technology is giving Tikofsky some relief.

Doctors at one New York hospital are using ultrasound to take a look at the joints and pinpoint inflammation with better accuracy.

"Traditionally, we use our fingers to feel the joint and see if there is inflammation or swelling," says Dr. Dimitrios Pappas, a rheumatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Doctors then let the ultrasound guide them as they inject medication or drain fluid.

The ultrasound is inexpensive and can be done immediately at a patient's bedside, which eliminates the need for an x-ray or an MRI.

"We can do it having a patient moving, we can see the joint in motion," said Dr. Pappas.

After getting Cortisone shots, Tikofsky says she already feels better.

"I can do things that may seem small, but are important to me," she said, "Such as being able to wash my hair without pain."

She's also thankful there's less guessing when it comes to her pain relief.

There are other benefits of the ultrasound. Patients no longer have to be exposed to radiation from x-rays and MRI's are expensive, so the ultrasounds save money.

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