What is Therapeutic Ultrasound?
Therapeutic ultrasound involves physiotherapists using an electrotherapy modality since the 1940s. An ultrasound probe transmits ultrasound waves through a transmission coupling gel, directly contacting your skin.
Therapeutic ultrasound can enhance:
- Healing rates
- Tissue heating
- Local blood flow
- Tissue relaxation
- Scar tissue breakdown.
How Could Ultrasound Help?
Ultrasound boosts local blood flow, potentially reducing local swelling and promoting healing of soft tissue injuries. Scar tissue could soften with higher power density.
Specific Ultrasound Uses
Therapeutic ultrasound shows remarkable effectiveness in treating mastitis or blocked milk ducts, leading to noticeable improvement within 24 to 72 hours.
Phonophoresis utilises ultrasound for non-invasively administering medications below the skin, benefiting patients averse to injections. Ultrasonic energy facilitates drug penetration in phonophoresis.
What is an Ultrasound Dose?
A typical ultrasound treatment spans 3-10 minutes, but for scar tissue breakdown, longer treatment times might be necessary. Throughout the procedure, the ultrasound probe’s head is in constant motion, ensuring patient comfort.
Some conditions treated via ultrasound include soft tissue injuries such as muscle or ligament injuries, tendinopathy, non-acute joint swelling, and muscle spasms.
How Does an Ultrasound Work?
The ultrasound head’s crystals vibrate, creating sound waves due to a piezoelectric effect. These ultrasound waves penetrate the skin, causing local soft tissues to vibrate. This repeated cavitation induces deep heating, generally without patient-perceptible heat. Athermal application occurs when heating isn’t desired, often in acute injuries and associated inflammation.
When Should Ultrasound be Avoided?
Ultrasound is contraindicated in cases of:
- Local malignancy
- Metal implants
- Local acute infection
- Vascular abnormalities
- Active epiphyseal regions (growth plates) in children
- Areas over the spinal cord following laminectomy
- Over the eyes, skull, or testes
- Directly on the abdomen of pregnant women.
Professionally administered by well-trained experts like physiotherapists, therapeutic ultrasound rarely leads to adverse effects. Consult your physiotherapist for their perspective on whether therapeutic ultrasound suits your injury.