Therapeutic ultrasound treatment is a very common technique that applies high-frequency sound waves to the patient’s skin using a round-headed probe with ultrasound gel to reduce friction and assist in the transmission of the waves. It uses sound waves in the frequency of 1-3 MHz that are created by the vibration of crystals in the probe that in turn causes vibration of the local tissues and leads to a deep heating locally, even though no sensation is felt by the patient normally.
In addition to heating the tissues, therapeutic ultrasound has been shown to produce an increase in local blood flow, aid in the breakdown of scar tissue, reduce chronic inflammation, promote healing and cause a relaxation in soft tissues. Also, therapeutic ultrasound treatment has been shown to produce cavitational effects, whereby the vibrations stimulate cell membranes and assist in the healing process. Other beneficial effects you can expect include improvement of pain, swelling and increased the range of motion.
Some of the most common conditions treated with therapeutic ultrasound treatment include:
– Tendinitis/tendonitis. The Philadelphia Panel guidelines recommend the use of therapeutic ultrasound in the treatment of calcific tendonitis in the shoulder.
– Joint swelling (chronic)
– Muscle spasm and trigger points
– Scar healing
– Shoulder pain. Studies have shown that ultrasound can help with several shoulder conditions including calcific tendonitis or tendinosis.
– Low back pain. Recent studies suggest that ultrasound may improve the functional ability of patients with low back pain.
– Fibromyalgia. Treatments consisting principally of ultrasound have been shown to be helpful in improving pain intensity, complaints of non-restorative sleep and impact on functional activities in patients with fibromyalgia.
– Arthritis. For example, when coupled with isokinetic exercises, ultrasound can increase the functional improvement in patients with knee arthritis. Certain studies have concluded that commercial over-the-counter medications were not as effective as ultrasound in patients with knee arthritis.
– Rheumatoid arthritis. The Ottawa Panel recommended the use of therapeutic ultrasound as part of a complete treatment plan for the management of rheumatoid arthritis.
– Knee pain.
– Foot pain and plantar fascitis.