How Does Ultrasound Therapy Work?

April 11th, 2013
How Does Ultrasound Therapy Work?

What Is Ultrasound Therapy?
Ultrasound therapy is a relatively common treatment in Physical Therapy used for pain relief and can be useful in treating many conditions. Some of the most common conditions ultrasound is used for include arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle strain/sprain, ligament sprain/strain and various other injuries. Ultrasound is exciting because it uses high-frequency sound waves to relieve pain. These sound waves produce heat that can penetrate deep into the painful tissue. Ultrasound therapy can provide an alternative, from addictive pain medication, to pain management.

A Typical Ultrasound Therapy Session

The Physical Therapist uses a water based gel on the patient’s affected area, which allows the probe to easily glide over the skin. The therapist then applies the probe to the affected area, using gentle circular motions to massage the sound waves through the tissue. During the session, the patient feels a tingling sensation that is comfortable. No one hears the sound waves because they are beyond the spectrum of human hearing.

Types of Ultrasound Therapy
There are two major types of ultrasound therapy: pulsed wave and continuous wave. Patients receive pulsed wave therapy, which uses intermittent waves that do not produce significant heat, when they have injuries needing pain relief. On the other hand, patients receive continuous wave therapy when they have chronically painful tissues, such as with rheumatoid arthritis. Either way, ultrasound therapy has the ability to repair damaged tissues, by penetrating the damaged cell membranes and breaking them down, as well as stretching the musculoskeletal structure. Most of all, it helps reduce inflammation.