What Is Therapeutic Ultrasound
Therapeutic ultrasound is a procedure that uses sound waves to stimulate the soft tissue beneath the surface of the skin to produce therapeutic benefits to injured tissue.
Types of Ultrasound
There are two types of therapeutic ultrasound therapy
1) Thermal, and 2) Mechanical. Both of these types of ultrasound use sound waves to penetrate the skin. The difference between the two is the rate at which the sound waves are transmitted.
Thermal Ultrasound Therapy
This type of ultrasound therapy uses a continuous transmission of sound waves. A microscopic vibration is created in the tissue as a result of the sound waves. This vibration creates a warming effect within the soft tissue. The thermal effects result in the following therapeutic benefits;
1) Increase joint range of motion
2) Soften scar tissue and adhesions
3) Decrease muscle spasms
4) Increase tissue healing and repair
Mechanical Ultrasound Therapy
This type of therapy does have some mild warming effects on the tissue, but its effects are primarily non-thermal. Mechanical ultrasound therapy transmits pulses of sound waves to penetrate the target tissue. This pulsing creates an expansion and contraction of tiny gas or vapour filled bubbles within the soft tissue. The movement of the bubbles assists in the diffusion of specific ions within the cells of the body needed for healing. The non-thermal effects result in the following therapeutic benefits;
1) Decrease pain
2) Decrease swelling
3) Decrease muscle spasm
4) Increase tissue regeneration and repair.
What to Expect During a Therapeutic
During the ultrasound treatment the therapist will apply some gel to your skin, which may feel cool. This helps to effectively transmit the sound waves to the target tissue and reduce friction between your skin and the ultrasound probe. The therapist will then keep the head of the probe in constant motion to avoid creating hot spots. While receiving the treatment you should feel nothing at all, other than the movement of the ultrasound probe on your skin. Due to the high frequency emitted by the sound waves, the nerves within the tissue cannot detect the stimulation. If you do experience an achy sensation, let the therapist know and the intensity of the machine will be adjusted.
Depending on the goal of the treatment, an ultrasound application can last anywhere between 5-10min. Factors that determine the length of the treatment are the size of the area to be treated and whether the injury is in the acute or chronic stage of healing. Treatments for acute injuries are shorter in length, while chronic injuries require more time. To gain maximum effectiveness of the ultrasound treatments it is recommended to receive 3-5 treatments per week to speed the healing of the injured tissue.
Conditions That Could Benefit From
Carpal tunnel syndrome
*These are just a few of the ailments that could benefit from therapeutic ultrasound.
Therapeutic Ultrasound Treatment
Epipyseal plates (children that are still growing)
Over visera (stomach, spleen, liver)
Large peripheral nerves
Implants i.e. hip replacement/pins etc
Areas that have been treated with pain medication
Front of the neck