Ultrasound therapy. Useful or not?

24th May, 2021

Key Points:

  1. Therapeutic ultrasound may be useful in some acute injuries.
  2. The use of therapeutic ultrasound in chronic conditions has shown little to no benefit.

What is therapeutic ultrasound?

Therapeutic ultrasound refers to mechanical vibrations at extremely high frequencies. When this sound wave energy is passed through a material, it will cause the particles of the material to oscillate.

Ultrasound therapy uses either thermal (or heat) or non-thermal functions to increase the rate of tissue repair and enhance the quality of tissue repair. Tissues with higher protein content (i.e. muscles) will absorb ultrasound to a greater extent compared to tissues with higher water content and low protein content (e.g. blood and fat). Therefore, tendons, ligaments and scar tissues absorb ultrasound the best.

In the thermal function, ultrasound therapy can be used to selectively increase the temperature of targeted tissue. This increases the blood flow to the tissue, thus increasing the speed of tissue repair.

In the non-thermal function, ultrasound therapy enhances the metabolic processes concerning protein synthesis and cellular secretions which facilitates the speed of tissue repair.

It is usually used as an adjunct therapy combined with a good dose of advice and education as well as therapeutic exercises to address your concerns. 

But does it only help with recent injuries?

Traditionally, ultrasound therapy has been used to treat acute injuries such as ankle sprains. It helps by increasing the temperature around the area to increase the rate of tissue healing. 

Some studies have found that there were no significant differences between groups that used ultrasound therapy and the control group that were given pseudo- ultrasound therapy for ankle sprains. Moreover, multiple studies do not support the use of ultrasound therapy for achilles tendinopathy as well.

What does this mean? Is this still useful?

Yes! Ultrasound therapy still can provide a temporary relief from pain and is commonly used in conjunction with other forms of Physiotherapy treatment such as manual therapy, exercise and some solid advice and education. 

It is important for you to seek advice from a professional who will be able to advise you on what the best course of action should be for your condition and if you’re a suitable candidate for the use of therapeutic ultrasound. Allow us to curate the information for you!

Book now or give us a call to schedule an appointment to see our Physiotherapist who will be able to partner you to recovery from your injury!

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