What is Ultrasound Therapy?

Ultrasound therapy is an electrotherapy which has been used by physiotherapists since the 1940s. High frequency sound waves are applied using an ultrasonic head around the site of a deep tissue injury, in order to stimulate blood circulation and cell activity. The aim is to reduce pain and swelling and to speed up the healing process.

Which injuries can be treated with ultrasound?

Ultrasound therapy can be used on both chronic and acute conditions. Common injuries which can be treated with ultrasound include tendonitis, osteoarthritis, muscle strain and tears and ligament injuries.

How does Ultrasound work?

Ultrasound waves are produced by the vibration of crystals within the head of the ultrasound machine. The treatment head is moved over the skin around the injured area, transmitting the vibration and energy into the soft tissues.

What to expect from ultrasound treatment

A typical ultrasound treatment will only take a few minutes, although can take longer if it is being used to break down scar tissue. A special ultrasound gel is placed on the skin to provide a medium through which the sound waves can travel. During the treatment, the ultrasound head is moved continuously in small circles over the skin.

Your physiotherapist will set the machine to apply the required depth and intensity of ultrasound waves. Lower frequency is used for deep tissue conditions, whereas higher frequency doses are used to treat injuries closer to the surface of the skin. The patient will feel no discomfort at all during the treatment.

Benefits of ultrasound treatment

Ultrasound can be used to improve the healing rate of certain soft tissues, through the following effects:
1) Blood flow increase
An increase in blood flow helps to reduce swelling and inflammation.

2) Tissue Heating
The vibrations caused by the ultrasound waves lead to an increase in heat within the surrounding tissues. This helps to improve the flexibility of ligaments and tendons, as well as reducing pain and muscle spasms.

3) Collagen production
Collagen is the main component in soft tissue such as tendons and ligaments, so by stimulating the production of collagen, the healing process of these tissues can be accelerated. It can also help to reduce the formation of scar tissue following an injury.

When should ultrasound therapy be avoided?

Ultrasound therapy should not be used during pregnancy or if the patient suffers from:
– Malignant or cancerous tissues
– Bone fractures
– Risk of haemorrhage
– Recent history of vein thrombosis
– Vascular abnormalities
– Acute infection

When used by highly trained professionals such as your physiotherapist, therapeutic ultrasound is very unlikely to cause any adverse effects. For further advice on how ultrasound can be used to treat your specific injury or condition, please contact us on 01423 884162.