Therapeutic ultrasound has been in existence since 1940 despite being surrounded with several controversies regarding its scientific foundation.
It is an ultrasonic procedure that stimulates or provokes the tissues beneath the skin surface using ultrasound to release its healing effects. An applicator or transducer is used in the process and gets in contact with the patient skin.
The process involves compression and rarefaction of sound waves with a very high speed. Human beings are not able to hear this sound.
Physical therapists have been using the technique to treat musculoskeletal problems such as bursitis, sprains, and tendonitis.
What You Didn’t Know About Ultrasound: Scientific Facts
Despite the rise in popularity of therapeutic ultrasound, there is little scientific evidence supporting the evidence. For decades therapeutic ultrasound has been used as the most reliable medicine for musculoskeletal disorders.
However, several authors have condemned the practice and its expensive variants. Ultrasound isn’t a promising therapy; it is a popular mainstream that is enjoying much more credibility than it deserves.
It is not based on any rational or theological foundations.
What is more shocking is the number of studies that have been done to ascertain the clinical benefits of US.
In fact, US is one area in the medical sector that is so widely used in modern musculoskeletal problems but surprisingly, very little is known about it.
Currently, there is insufficient biophysical evidence showing that shaking or vibrating body tissues yields any clinical benefits. Who knows? People could be reaping benefits from a technique that perhaps has less benefit to the society than it claims to.
How Does Therapeutic US Work?
The major principle behind this treatment is ultrasound waves that are combined with electric effects (piezoelectric) to release physiotherapeutic effects. Constant vibration of the head of the probe causes a vibration around the inner skin tissues.
It is normal for patients to feel a heat sensation but this is not the case at all times. However, some conditions such as acute inflammation do not require heat. In such cases, pulses are used instead of heat transmission.
Two Major Forms of Therapeutic Ultrasound
Over the past years, forms of therapeutic ultrasound have diversified. Every physical therapist uses his or her modern technique. Nevertheless, the principle or working mechanism remains the same – Use of sound waves to stimulate body tissues.
The primary two forms of therapeutic ultrasound include:
- Ordinary/Common ultrasound – Involves conventional physical therapy that is available everywhere. Most people that have undergone ultrasound are pretty much aware of this. Use of small and portable machines.
You can even choose to buy your own. Ordinary therapeutic US doesn’t involve many complexities; it is painless and brief.
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) – This is a high tech, expensive and painful technique. The use of stronger sound waves and disruption of tissues can sometimes occur.
Other forms of US may involve phonophoresis where drugs are injected into tissues.
Lithotripsy is also another common method where sound waves are used to vibrate the tip of any invasive probe violently.
Application of US
Ultrasound modality today involves a combination of electric signal and the physical part (transducer). Transmission ultrasound gel is also used together with the applicator and moved around the affected area. The major objective of US is to warm body muscles, tendons and also help improve blood circulation.
It is by doing so that therapeutic healing effects get released into the body. Even though most scientific studies have painted a mild picture about Ultrasound, that doesn’t mean it is an utterly useless physiotherapeutic method.
In fact, to some conditions, the method has shown remarkable hope. It has proven to have some effects on the body such as:
- Relaxing tissues
- Quickens healing rates
- Enhances blood flow
- Scar tissue breakdown
Well, perhaps you are wondering how therapeutic ultrasound could be of much help to you. It has been applied for decades to:
- Promote bone fracture healing
- Enhance healing of local swelling
- Reduce chronic inflammations
The intensity of the US is varied depending on the severity of the problem. At times, compounds may be injected into tissues to enhance healing.
What is an Ultrasound Dose?
Under normal circumstances, ultrasound treatment will last 3-5 minutes. However, depending on the condition, the time can be more than usual. A good example is where there is a tissue breakdown.
What You Should Know Before Using Therapeutic Ultrasound
Therapeutic ultrasound is not a blood sugar level test that you should take as many times as you wish.
The effects of US are still under dispute, especially when done on injured tissues. The Therapeutic US is known to have an effect on inflammatory and repair processes.
Before taking any step, it is highly advisable that you consult a highly-trained professional such as physiotherapist on the proper use of therapeutic US.