Ultrasound Therapy: A Glimpse Inside

Ultrasound Therapy is a therapeutic procedure that has been used by therapists for more than 6 decades. The therapy uses sound waves above the range of human hearing to treat injuries like muscle strains, chronic inflammation, swelling etc. It has been one of the popular procedures for musculoskeletal medicine.

Benefits of Therapeutic Ultrasound

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Therapeutic Procedure:

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Ultrasound is applied using the head of an ultrasound probe that is placed in direct contact with your skin. A special ultrasound gel is placed on the skin to ensure maximal contact between the treatment head and the surface of the skin and also to provide a medium through with the sound waves can travel. Using different intensities and frequencies of sound, there are many applications of therapeutic ultrasound, but all share the basic principle of “stimulating” tissue with sound waves.

How Ultrasound Works

The sound waves that pass through the skin causes vibration in local tissues. This vibration causes a deep heating effect but no heat sensation will be felt by the patient. In fresh injury with acute inflammation where a heating effect is not desirable, ultrasound can be pulsed instead of continuous transmission. Other than heating effect, ultrasound has shown increase in blood flow, tissue relaxation and scar tissue breakdown that can be used to help reduce local swelling and chronic inflammation. Ultrasound can often be used as a tool to diagnose minor fractures that may not be noticeable on x-ray. The sound waves get trapped between the two parts of the break, in this way an acute pain may be felt.

Duration of Treatment

Ultrasound treatment typically takes 4 to 5 minutes depending on the size of the area being treated. Treatment time can be much longer if tissue breakdown is the goal. The head of ultrasound probe is kept in constant motion during the treatment and it causes no discomfort to patient at all. Discomfort will only be caused if the probe is held in one place for more than few seconds. (Build up of the sound energy can result in discomfort).

The effects of therapeutic ultrasound are still not completely clear. Still now there are very less evidence to clarify how ultrasound causes a therapeutic effect in injured tissue. Nevertheless practitioners around the world continue to use this treatment modality relying on personal working experience instead of scientific evidence.

 

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