Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy

Ultrasound Physiotherapy

Article by John Miller

Ultrasound Physiotherapy

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.

ultrasound physiotherapy

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:

Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy Clinics

To make your booking, please contact one of the following PhysioWorks clinics that provide Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy programs.

To make your booking, please contact one of the following PhysioWorks clinics that provide Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy programs.

Book Online 24/7:

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 being able to feel 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 contact one of our real-time ultrasound clinics for individual advice.

Real Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy FAQs

What is Physiotherapy Treatment?

Physiotherapists help people affected by illness, injury or disability through exercise, manual joint therapy, soft tissue techniques education and advice.  Physiotherapists maintain physical health, help patients to manage pain and prevent disease for people of all ages. Physiotherapists help to encourage pain-relief, injury recovery, enabling people to stay playing a sport, working or performing activities of daily living while assisting them to remain functionally independent.

There is a multitude of different physiotherapy treatment approaches.

Acute & Sub-Acute Injury Management

Hands-On Physiotherapy Techniques

physiotherapy treatment

Your physiotherapist's training includes hands-on physiotherapy techniques such as:

Your physiotherapist has skilled training. Physiotherapy techniques have expanded over the past few decades. They have researched, upskilled and educated themselves in a spectrum of allied health skills. These skills include techniques shared with other healthcare practitioners. Professions include exercise physiologists, remedial massage therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, kinesiologists, chiropractors and occupational therapists, just to name a few.

Physiotherapy Taping

Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled professional who utilises strapping and taping techniques to prevent and assist injuries or pain relief and function.

Alternatively, your physiotherapist may recommend a supportive brace.

Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Many physiotherapists have acquired additional training in the field of acupuncture and dry needling to assist pain relief and muscle function.

Physiotherapy Exercises

Physiotherapists have been trained in the use of exercise therapy to strengthen your muscles and improve your function. Physiotherapy exercises use evidence-based protocols where possible as an effective way that you can solve or prevent pain and injury. Your physiotherapist is highly-skilled in the prescription of the "best exercises" for you and the most appropriate "exercise dose" for you depending on your rehabilitation status. Your physiotherapist will incorporate essential components of pilates, yoga and exercise physiology to provide you with the best result. They may even use Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy so that you can watch your muscles contract on a screen as you correctly retrain them.

Biomechanical Analysis

Biomechanical assessment, observation and diagnostic skills are paramount to the best treatment. Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled health professional. They possess superb diagnostic skills to detect and ultimately avoid musculoskeletal and sports injuries. Poor technique or posture is one of the most common sources of a repeat injury.


Aquatic water exercises are an effective method to provide low bodyweight exercises.

Sports Physiotherapy

Sports physio requires an extra level of knowledge and physiotherapy skill to assist injury recovery, prevent injury and improve performance. For the best advice, consult a Sports Physiotherapist.

Vestibular Physiotherapy

Women's Health

Women's Health Physiotherapy is a particular interest group of therapies.

Workplace Physiotherapy

Not only can your physiotherapist assist you in sport, but they can also help you at work. Ergonomics looks at the best postures and workstation set up for your body at work or home. Whether it be lifting technique improvement, education programs or workstation setups, your physiotherapist can help you.


Plus Much More

Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled body mechanic. A physiotherapist has particular interests in certain injuries or specific conditions. For advice regarding your individual problem, please contact your PhysioWorks team.

Ultrasound Physiotherapy Could 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.

Brisbane Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy Clinics

At PhysioWorks, we believe that cutting edge technology and treatment techniques deliver the best results for you. We welcome clients who are currently attending other spinal health practitioners without ultrasound-guided rehabilitation. We are happy to work with you and your spinal health practitioner to solve your back pain as quickly and effectively as possible. PhysioWorks has several real-time ultrasound physiotherapy clinics in Brisbane. The diagnostic ultrasound equipment is expensive, so only a handful of physiotherapy clinics offer this premium service. Allow up to 45-60 minutes for your initial scan that includes assessment, corrective exercises and treatment. To make your booking, please contact one of the following PhysioWorks clinics that provide Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy programs.

Book Online 24/7:

Ashgrove Ph 3366 4221     Clayfield Ph 3862 4544     Sandgate Ph 3269 1122

Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy

ultrasound-physiotherapy Using a diagnostic ultrasound, you and your physiotherapist can observe your different layers of 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.

Educate You

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. More info regarding Ultrasound Physiotherapy.

Back Pain is Multifactorial

Lower back pain is a complex condition, especially if it has been present for some time. Retraining the Transversus Abdominis and Multifidus are significant milestones in the road to recovery. It is, however, often not the whole solution. Depending on your needs, a comprehensive rehabilitation program will be designed for you by your physiotherapist. In addition to the Transversus Abdominis and Multifidus and core strengthening exercises, your rehabilitation will probably require other interventions. These techniques may include joint mobilisation, lumbopelvic alignment techniques, massage, muscle releases and stretches, leg and arm strengthening, posture correction and various other modalities to reduce your pain. Your physiotherapist will discuss your treatment options specific to your needs during your consultation.

Ultrasound Physiotherapy May Help:

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%. It's 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

SIJ Dysfunction

The Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ) should be a reasonably stiff or rigid link between the pelvic bones. In some people, due to trauma or just extra mobility, the SIJ has too much-uncontrolled motion. This new motion allows the joint to adopt an unusual position which may result in pain. The transversus abdominis (TA) and oblique abdominals through their attachments to the iliac bones help closure of the pelvis and improves the position, control and stability of the sacroiliac joints. 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 muscle 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

Pelvis Instability

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 weight of the baby 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 the 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 the post-operative pain, the muscle trauma changes the ability of the core stability muscles 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. With some surgeries, the muscle fibres of the lower part of the transversus muscle are separated (such as in appendix removal or caesarean births). Because of this, you need to retrain the muscle to learn how to correctly use it again.

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 forms of exercise place high demands on your core stability system. If 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 the prevention or resolution of 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 just 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 end 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!

Private Health Insurance Rebates

PhysioWorks Physiotherapy and Remedial Massage are more affordable than you think. Your Private Health Insurance (PHI) usually pays for the majority of your treatment fees, leaving you with only a small gap payment.

However, Private Health Funds do vary their rebates payable depending upon the level of cover that you have taken. Some funds have kept up with the costs of modern medicine whereas, sadly others haven't, with rebates similar to what they were a decade ago.

HICAPS - Instant Health Fund Claims

Most health funds are members of the HICAPS instant claims system.  Swipe your health insurance card at our reception counter, and you can instantly claim your physiotherapy treatment via our online Hicaps System. Remedial Massage is claimable via Hicaps for some but not all funds. For more information, please visit Hicaps for the latest funds which can use their instant claiming system.

Private health insurance rebates are available for all of our physiotherapists. Instant claims are possible via our in-practice Hicaps system.

Third-Party Insurers

PhysioWorks practitioners are registered providers for government, Workcover and insurance companies including:

  • Workcover
  • InjuryNet
  • Australia Post; Coles Myer; Woolworths
  • Medicare
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs
  • CTP & Sports Insurers

To make your booking, please contact one of the following PhysioWorks clinics that provide Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy programs.

Book Online 24/7:

Ashgrove Ph 3366 4221    

Clayfield Ph 3862 4544    

Sandgate Ph 3269 1122

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