What is Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy?
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could see how your muscles were contracting as you were doing exercises? You can! The technique is called Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy.
Using a diagnostic ultrasound, you can watch your different layers of muscles contract, relax and most importantly, look at their muscle contraction timing. Yes, it’s just like seeing an unborn baby.
Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy Clinics
Please get in touch with one of the following PhysioWorks clinics that provide Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy programs to make your booking.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of the following PhysioWorks clinics that provide Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy programs to make your booking.
What Conditions Benefit from Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy?
Common Ultrasound Physiotherapy Conditions
Ultrasound physiotherapy assists any muscle retraining. The most prevalent conditions that can be helped by real-time ultrasound physiotherapy include:
- Lower Back Pain –
- SIJ Pain
- Pregnancy back pain
- Pelvic instability
- Hip Pain – Gluteal tendinopathy
- Shoulder Pain – Rotator cuff
- Knee Pain – VMO activation
- Foot Exercises – Flat Feet
- Core Exercises
- Pelvic Floor
- Dry Needling
Core Exercises & Back Pain
Back pain researchers pioneered real-time ultrasound physiotherapy in the successful treatment of lower back pain. They found that the best way to activate the correct core stability muscles is to see them working on a real-time ultrasound scan as you perform the core exercises.
When we attempt to retrain your deep core stability muscle such as Transversus Abdominis or Multifidus, feeling the muscle working is fundamental. Unfortunately, since the Transversus Abdominis muscle is located deep in your abdomen and beneath two outer muscles, it can be quite hard to feel whether it is switching on or not. And, it’s almost impossible to detect whether the external two muscles are working rather than the correct muscle.
This visual feedback is where the real-time ultrasound scanner comes into its own. The technique of real-time ultrasound retraining enables you to quickly learn how to correctly contract your transversus abdominis, multifidus and other core muscles.
The ultrasound scanner provides you and your physiotherapist with a video picture of your muscles working. This real-time visual feedback enables you to precisely match up what you think you feel with what is happening beneath your skin at that very moment. This feedback makes it much easier for you to correctly do your deep core stability exercises at home, which will quicken the solution to your pain.
For specific advice, whether real-time ultrasound physiotherapy and how it may assist you, please get in touch with one of our real-time ultrasound clinics for individual advice.
Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
What conditions are likely to be assisted by the use of real-time ultrasound physiotherapy?
- Lower Back Pain - Transversus Abdominus & Multifidus
- SIJ Pain / Pelvic Instability
- Pregnancy Back Pain
- Hip Pain - Gluteal tendinopathy
- Shoulder Pain - Rotator Cuff
- Knee Pain - VMO activation
- Foot Exercises - Flat Feet
- Core Exercises
- Pelvic Floor
- Dry Needling
Lower Back Pain
Ultrasound retraining of your Core Stability Muscles has fantastic benefits for low back pain sufferers. Researchers have investigated the benefits of ultrasound retraining since the 1990s. They have discovered that your chances of not experiencing another bout of low back pain (LBP) within 12 months are 4.4 times better if you have undertaken an ultrasound-guided exercise program: 70% vs 16%.
Its effectiveness also lasts. After three years, you still have a 2 in 3 chance of not experiencing LBP if you did the exercises. Hides et al. (2001).
More info: Lower Back Pain
Ultrasound retraining of your Core Stability Muscles has fantastic benefits for sciatica sufferers. Since the vast majority of sciatica is caused by sciatic nerve pinching in the low lumbar spine, a treatment that helps your back will almost always alleviate sciatica.
More info: Sciatica
The Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ) should be a reasonably stiff or rigid link between the pelvic bones. In some people, the SIJ has too much-uncontrolled motion due to trauma or just extra mobility. This new motion allows the joint to adopt an unusual position which may result in pain.
Through their attachments to the iliac bones, the transversus abdominis (TA) and oblique abdominals help the pelvis's closure and improve the sacroiliac joints' position, control, and stability.
Researchers have discovered that the contraction of the TA muscle significantly stiffens and supports the sacroiliac joint. This improvement is more significant than that caused by an abdominal bracing action using all the lateral abdominal muscles. (Richardson et al. 2002)
More info: SIJ Pain
Pelvic Floor Retraining
Strong pelvic floor muscles are essential for men and women. Women have been encouraged to exercise their pelvic floor muscles for decades, but now we understand that it is just as vital for men. Research has found that a durable pelvic floor improves:
- incontinence (urine dribbling)
- post-childbirth (women)
- post-prostatectomy (men)
- erectile dysfunction (Uni of Bristol study, 2004)
- sexual sensations and enjoyment (Impotence Association, UK)
More info: Pelvic floor
Some people are born a little more flexible than the rest of us. Usually, these people have poor muscle tone in their deep, stabilising muscles. The transversus abdominis is the most important muscle that holds the two halves of the pelvis together. Core stability retraining will improve your deep core muscle control, which dynamically stabilises your pelvis, SIJ and lumbar spine.
More info: Pelvic Instability
Pregnancy or Post-Childbirth Back Pain
Carrying a child is a physically demanding task. The baby's weight places continual pressure on the pelvic floor muscles and stretches the lower abdominal muscles.
The trauma of birth involves further stretching of the pelvic floor muscles and sometimes tearing. Hence, the pelvic floor muscles and the transversus abdominis become weak, stretched and inhibited. Along with this, a hormone called "relaxin" is released through your body during the months before and post-delivery. Relaxin makes the pelvic ligaments soften to enable the pelvis joints to stretch for delivery. This elasticity means that the transversus muscle has to work even harder to stabilise the pelvis and lumbar spine.
The good news is that Ultrasound Retraining is very safe for the unborn child. The ultrasound equipment is the same as that used by your Obstetrician for routine pregnancy scans.
Caesarian births have additional complications due to the cutting of muscle layers and, in some cases, nerves. We highly recommend US retraining following a Caesarian delivery.
More info: Pregnancy Back Pain
Post Abdominal Surgery
Abdominal and pelvic surgery involves cutting through the muscle layers. Along with post-operative pain, muscle trauma changes the core stability muscles' ability to work efficiently. As with other muscle cuts, your Transversus Abdominis, in particular, needs to be strengthened post-operatively. Otherwise, it will almost certainly remain permanently weak.
The lower part of the transversus muscle fibres is separated (such as in appendix removal or caesarean births). Because of this, you need to retrain the muscle to learn how to use it again correctly.
Pre-Pilates, Yoga, Gym & Exercise Programs
Exercise programs that aim to develop your core strength can often do just the opposite. The most common reason for injury and back pain is the incorrect timing of muscle recruitment. Pilates, Yoga, gym strengthening, and other exercise forms place high demands on your core stability system. Suppose the core muscle recruitment order is abnormal, your chance of injury increases in proportion with the exercise difficulty.
Research has identified that the order of core muscle recruitment is the most critical factor in preventing or resolving pain.
Remember, if you build a skyscraper on a weak foundation, it will eventually topple. The same goes for your core stability muscles. Recruit the deeper muscles before your superficial layers, just like adding floors to a sturdy skyscraper and your back will be healthy and pain-free forever.
More info: Pilates
"Pot Belly" Syndrome
"Pot Belly" - or whatever you wish to call it, is a cosmetic problem related to your lower stomach muscles.
Some people have lax lower stomach muscles. No matter how hard you pull in your tummy, the lower part doesn't seem to pull in. Ultrasound retraining is a valid alternative to cosmetic surgery.
The problem is that the transversus abdominis muscle has stopped working effectively, and the upper abdominal muscles dominate. Hence as you attempt to pull in your stomach muscles, the upper stomach muscles suck in, but the lower part doesn't. The result is a "Pot Belly"."Pot Belly" is a common problem post-pregnancy.
With Ultrasound Retraining, you can learn to draw in your lower tummy muscles and solve your "Pot Belly" forever!
Could Ultrasound Physiotherapy Help You Beat Back Pain?
Researchers have found that ultrasound physiotherapy has a 70% success rate of preventing a return of lower back pain within 12 months. The same study showed that those patients who didn't undergo the ultrasound physiotherapy had only a 16% chance of remaining pain-free.
This finding means your chance of avoiding repeat back pain is 4.4 times better with ultrasound physiotherapy!
Plus, there's even more good news. Researchers have discovered that 65% of sufferers didn't have another bout of pain within three years after undertaking ultrasound physiotherapy. This low recurrence rate means the ultrasound physiotherapy intervention also endures the test of time.
Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
Using a diagnostic ultrasound, you and your physiotherapist can observe your different muscles contract and relax, live in real-time.
This visual assessment tool allows your physiotherapist to assess whether your muscles are under or over contracting, plus they can observe and correct your muscle activation recruitment order.
Yes, it's just like viewing an unborn baby, but it's for your muscles!
Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapist
Your specially trained, real-time ultrasound physiotherapist will:
Assess You Thoroughly
Your ultrasound physiotherapist will assess the quality of your specific muscle activation pattern. On the display screen, you'll be able to visualise in real-time and correct your muscle contraction pattern.
Your physiotherapist will:
- Use the ultrasound scanner to explain the various muscles and structures that you can see on the screen.
- Teach you how to watch your muscles contracting, sliding and thickening on the screen.
- Provide you with instructions on how to contract your muscles correctly.
Provide You With Corrective Exercises
Your physiotherapist will prescribe or modify your home exercises to optimise your outcome. Once your ultrasound physiotherapist is happy that you can achieve a proper muscle contraction in isolation, they may introduce more sophisticated tasks to challenge your contraction control.
The type of exercise program is dependent upon each patient and your sporting, work or recreational demands. As you advance through the progressively more challenging exercise stages, you can see an improvement in the strength and stability of the spine.