Therapeutic Ultrasound In Physiotherapy

By WIN Contributor: Jenn Lepere, DPT

When most people think of ultrasound, they think of their doctors using a machine with cold gel probing around an injured area looking for a tear, or of an expectant mother's belly looking for the baby.  What most people don’t realize is that ultrasound has other therapeutic uses that physiotherapists have been using for years. 

What’s the difference?

Diagnostic  ultrasound, like the one used to investigate injuries or the health of a baby during pregnancy, uses high frequency sound waves that bounce off structures under the skin giving us a picture. 

Therapeutic ultrasound uses low frequency sound waves that causes small vibrations of local tissue that can help with injury.  

How does it help?

The sound waves that pass through the skin cause a vibration of the local tissues. This vibration can cause a deep local heating, even though patients usually do not sense the warmth. Ultrasound can produce many effects other than just the potential heating effect. It has been shown to cause increases in tissue relaxation, local blood flow, and scar tissue breakdown. The effect of the increase in local blood flow can be used to help reduce local swelling and chronic inflammation, and, according to some studies, promote bone fracture healing. The intensity or power density of the ultrasound can be adjusted depending on the desired effect.

Conditions treated?

The most common conditions treated with ultrasound include soft tissue injuries such as tendonitis or sprain/strains, joint swelling and muscle spasm. 

Come on into WIN to see one of our therapists to see if ultrasounds therapy will help with your pain.