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How Does Ultrasound Therapy Work?

January 20, 2023
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Therapeutic ultrasound is commonly used in physical therapy to provide deep heat to soft tissue injuries in the body. These soft tissues include muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons.

Ultrasound in physical therapy differs from diagnostic ultrasound. With the latter, healthcare professionals use ultrasound to see the inside of the body. For example, diagnostic ultrasound allows healthcare providers to check on a fetus during pregnancy.

The therapeutic ultrasound machine works by sending an electric current through the crystals found in the ultrasound probe — also called the ultrasound wand. The ultrasound probe vibrates, causing waves to go through the skin to the body underneath. The waves transport energy to the tissues to cause desired effects. Ultrasound can also focus on deep tissues in your body without affecting other tissues near the surface.‌

The frequency and intensity of the ultrasound, the length of the procedure, and the application area determine how ultrasound physical therapy is done.

Ultrasound therapy has multiple uses and benefits in physical rehabilitation. Read on to learn how ultrasound therapy works.


Use of Therapeutic Ultrasound

Since the advantages of ultrasound are so broad, it can be used for a wide range of issues. However, it is usually reserved for issues with swollen muscles, particularly when time is an important factor in recovery.

The heating and relaxing benefits help in muscle pain relief, while the increased flow to the affected area will mean more lymph passes through. Lymph is a clear fluid that transports white blood cells throughout our body, which fights infection, promotes tissue healing, and removes excess fluid. These 3 factors combined make it a very effective way of treating swelling and inflammation, not only of the muscle tissues but also of the joints, tendons, and ligaments. Some of the most commonly treated issues include tendonitis, not-acute joint swelling, and chronic inflammation.


Risks of Ultrasound Rehabilitation Therapy

Ultrasound physical therapy has a very low risk of causing complications. But exposure to low-intensity ultrasound for a long time may cause superficial burns on the skin. Medical practitioners usually make sure that the ultrasound probe is moving when in contact with your skin.

Cavitation ultrasound therapy can also cause minor discomfort because of the shockwaves it causes. To solve this, your doctor will administer a sedative to manage the pain. Internal bleeding and scarring can sometimes occur, depending on your time on the procedure and how long you’ve been exposed to the shockwaves.‌

Therapeutic ultrasound is not used for issues near a pregnant woman’s womb because it could put the pregnancy at risk. It is also generally not used over the spine, eyes, pacemakers, other metal implants, and areas with active infections.


Benefits of Ultrasound Rehabilitation Therapy

Ultrasound therapy has been known to increase muscle tissue relaxation, increase blood flow, and aid in scar tissue breakdown. An increased blood flow can help reduce local swelling and chronic inflammation by delivering more nutrients to the infected area. According to some studies, it may even promote the healing of bone fractures.

Chiropractors, physical therapists, and personal trainers all use ultrasound therapy. While studies are still testing the effectiveness of these treatments, many people find them helpful in reducing pain and speeding up the healing process. In one study, ultrasound therapy even encouraged the creation of new bone cells in mice.

While ultrasound therapy is not effective for all chronic pain, it may help reduce your pain if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Myofascial pain
  • Bursitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Pain caused by scar tissue
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Muscle strains and sprains


What To Expect During Ultrasound Rehabilitation Therapy

On the day of the therapy appointment, wear comfortable clothing that you can easily remove. Most of the time, the technician performing the procedure will evaluate the area without having you take off your clothes or wear a gown.‌

Before starting the therapy, the technician will check the skin for any infections, burns, or active wounds. The technician will apply a hypoallergenic ultrasound gel or cream if your skin is clear. This will help prevent air from coming between your skin and the wand and also help conduct the ultrasound waves to the tissues. The ultrasound will then be applied to your skin by the technician for about 10 minutes in a stroking motion.


Get the Best Treatments and Care at Palm Wellness Center

Ultrasound therapy treatments are safe and effective for most people suffering from muscle, bone, and other health conditions.

Although there are certain cases where this treatment isn’t the best option, Palm Wellness Center is fully aware of the contraindications and follows evidence-based procedures and best practices to ensure successful treatment.

Our doctors will assess your health condition and health history to determine what treatment is best for your needs.

Schedule an appointment with us at (813) 443-5370 or visit https://www.palmwellness.center/contact/.

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