What is it?
Therapeutic ultrasound is a form of physiotherapy treatment provided for specific injuries that uses ultrasound waves for therapeutic benefit. It is classed as a form of electrotherapy treatment to assist with the management of various soft tissue injuries. The modality is applied via a transducer that makes direct contact with the body surface area. The ‘ultrasound waves’ transfer to the body part through a medium (gel or water) to reduce friction and assist with wave transmission. The waves are absorbed primarily by the soft tissues around the body such as ligaments, tendons, muscle and other associated connective tissues.
How does it work?
The effects of ultrasound include both thermal and non-thermal uses. Thermal effects are due to the absorption of sound waves and the non-thermal effects work by cavitation, micro-streaming and acoustic streaming. The effects of cavitation result from the pulsed vibration of the microscopic sound waves that cause the formation of air bubbles which then pass through the body and transmit vibration waves to the local area to directly stimulate cell membranes. The stimulation response is known to enhance the cell-repair effects of the inflammatory process and ultimately enhance the healing process.
What are the benefits?
Therapeutic ultrasound offers many benefits in the healing of soft tissue injuries. The following points outline the main ultrasound effects used in clinic by a physiotherapist:
- An increase in blood flow to the injured tissues to enhance the healing rate
- A reduction of swelling and tissue oedema to assist with pain relief
- The softening of local scar tissue due to the gentle massaging effects of the ultrasound application
Ultrasound is commonly used in conjunction with other forms of treatment for most soft tissue injuries. Examples of such injuries include:
- Ligament Sprains
- Tendonopathies (Tendonitis)
- Muscle Strains
- Joint Inflammation
- Scar Tissue Adhesions
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Research into the use of ultrasound has shown to have benefits for many musculoskeletal injuries and soft tissue lesions. Our physiotherapy team use it selectively when they believe the application will create the desired tissue response and allow for a more efficient healing.
Please feel free to contact the Didsbury G4 Clinic (Manchester) to speak to a member of the team for any questions that you may have.