Ultrasound Therapy

What is ultrasound therapy?

Ultrasound therapy is a treatment procedure that physical or occupational therapists provide for tissue healing and pain relief. The procedure provides deep heat to the muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. With the deep heating of certain body parts, the circulation and the healing process improves. It also increases the temperature of the tissues and reduces pain.

The therapy also induces energy into the body to create small gas bubbles that expand and contract quickly around the tissues. Due to the contraction and expansion of the bubbles, the injured tissues heal faster. Physiotherapists with licenses and qualifications can apply the therapy for an effective outcome. The treatment procedure can be used for different tissues and is highly beneficial.

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Types of Ultrasound Therapy:

There are two types of therapies, mechanical and thermal. Both involve a transducer generating sound waves to permeate the soft tissues. The rate at which the waves pervade the tissues differentiates one therapy from the other.

  • Mechanical ultrasound

In this therapy, the pulses of sound waves penetrate the tissues. It creates a warming effect and the expansion and contraction of the small gas bubbles in soft tissues. This therapy reduces swelling and pain.

  • Thermal ultrasound

In this therapy, the therapist continuously transmits the sound waves, causing small vibrations in the deep tissue molecules. The procedure increases friction and heat, and the warming effect heals the soft tissues by increasing metabolism in the cells.

The type of therapy to administer depends on the condition. Thermal ultrasound is suitable for strains, sprains, and myofascial pain. On the other hand, mechanical therapy is more appropriate for swelling, scar tissue, and those with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Risks of Ultrasound Therapy:

Among the potential risks of the therapy is that fluctuation of pressure during cavitation can damage cellular activity and cause microplosion. Based on temperatures grades, the therapy may cause coagulative necrosis, tissue vaporization, and mild heating. Although the general practice of ultrasound is safe and effective, minor cases of pain due to cavitation may occur. Cavitation may also rarely cause dizziness, disorientation, and nausea.

Benefits of Ultrasound Therapy:

The therapy offers several benefits:

  • Pain reduction

For beginners, the therapy provides relief from pain and heals the deep tissues in the body. It also reduces muscle spasms and tightness that may be identified as the root cause of pain.

  • Relaxing tension in the tissues

It is estimated that musculoskeletal conditions contribute to disabilities worldwide and occur due to damage in the muscle tissue. Falls, jerking movements, accidents, dislocations, fractures, sprains, and direct blows may cause intense pain and immobilization. The therapy provides deep heat to the tissues to relieve tension. With increased blood flow, the cells become more equipped to receive the healing fluids. Therefore, therapeutic ultrasound treats soft tissue lesions and surgical wounds.

  • Applying deep heat

The deep heat in the ultrasound therapy penetrates deeper into the muscles and tissues. When sound waves cause vibration in the tissues, it generates heat and increases friction at the molecular level. As a result, tissue temperature rises.

  • The increased flow of blood

The flow of blood reduces inflammation in the injured area. It also reduces inflammation associated with other health issues and chronic inflammation.  The therapist sets the device to the pulse for fresh injuries with severe inflammation and pumps blood to reduce pain.

  • Breaking down scar tissue

The effect of the therapy causes small vibrations, affecting the fibers causing the scar tissue to form. The breakdown of scar tissue increases motion range and maintains it for long-term relief.

Ultrasound Therapy used for which Conditions:

The therapy treats orthopedic injuries and include.

  • Bursitis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Ligament injuries and sprains
  • Tendonitis
  • Tears and muscle strains
  • Tightness and joint contracture
  • Swelling of the joint
  • Fractures and pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Myofascial pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Varicose ulcers
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Pressure sores
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Meniscal injury
  • Prolapsed intervertebral disc
  • Dupuytren’s contracture

The therapy also treats soft tissue injuries, neck pain, low back pain, and rotator cuff tears.

Who Shouldn’t have Ultrasound Therapy?

The treatment procedure is safe and effective and is non-invasive. However, people with the following conditions need to avoid the therapy.

  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Broken skin and fractures that are yet to heal
  • Not to be applied around the breast, eyes, or the sexual organs
  • Malignant tumors
  • Post laminectomy
  • Not be applied over spina bifida
  • Areas to avoid are pelvic regions, abdomen, and the lower back of menstruating or pregnant women
  • Acute sepsis

How to prepare for Ultrasound Therapy?

A professional physical therapist selects a small area to apply the therapy, each lasting for five to ten minutes. Usually, they apply a gel on the head of the transducer to allow the sound waves to penetrate the skin. The therapist also checks the calibration of the device and tests the applicator before starting the therapy.

Recovery: What Happens After the Ultrasound Therapy?

After the therapy, patients experience deep relief as the blood flow increases with deep heat. It also relaxes the muscles and the connective tissue, causing relief from pain and muscle spasms.

Related conditions:

The ultrasound therapy reduces pain and increases circulation. It also increases the mobility of soft tissues. It is also used to treat deep lacerations and dermal wounds in specific frequencies. Only a professional and licensed physical therapist must conduct the procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does ultrasound therapy relieve inflammation?
The therapy is used for pain reduction and inflammation. It also promotes healing after soft tissue injury.
2. How does the therapist give ultrasound therapy?
The physical therapist applies ultrasound through the direct contact method. They apply a small amount of the gel to the affected area and move the transducer head gently over it.
3. How long does the therapy last?
Typically, the therapy continues for about twenty to forty minutes.

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