What is Ultrasound Therapy?
Ultrasound is a method of heating and stimulating muscle, tendons, ligaments and cartilage beneath the skin’s surface using very high frequency sound waves, between 800,000 Hz and 2,000,000 Hz, which cannot be heard by humans. It is derived from Sonar technology used by submarines. It is applied by using an applicator that is in direct contact with the patient’s skin. It can be adjusted to increase or decrease the frequency in order to penetrate even the deepest of muscles. As the intensity increases so does the heating effect on the connective tissue. Connective tissue is ligament, muscle, tendon, fascia, cartilage and even scar tissue.
What is Ultrasound Therapy Used For?
We commonly use the ultrasound in conjunction with other effective treatments such as myofascial release, Kinesiotaping or Rocktaping, electrical stimulation, joint manipulation and stretching and strengthening exercises. Conditions that we have found ultrasound therapy to be effective include:
- Ligament sprains
- Muscle strains
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
- Achilles tendonitis
- Lower back pain
- Impingement Syndrome
- High hamstring Tendonopathy
- Ischial bursitis
- Meniscus injuries
- Breaking up scar tissue
- Many other sports and connective tissue injuries
How does Ultrasound Therapy Work?
There are four primary uses and benefits to ultrasound:
- Ultrasound speeds up of the healing process by increasing blood flow in the treated area. Blood contains everything your body needs to heal including oxygen and nutrients.
- Ultrasound can help decrease swelling by dilating the smaller blood vessels in hard to reach, deeper ligaments, muscles, cartilage and tendons.
- Ultrasound can provide gentle massage of muscles tendons, ligaments and cartilage in the treated area because no strain is added and any scar tissue is softened.
- Ultrasound can be used to remove and break up scar tissue which results from the vibration of the tissue causing microscopic bubbles to form. These bubbles also transmit the vibrations in a way that directly stimulates cell membranes. Stimulating cell membranes appears to enhance cellular repair effects and aids in building new, healthy connective tissue.
Ultrasound Therapy Research
When used as a solo healing instrument ultrasound may not be effective. The research on ultrasound is mixed for this reason. In research studies they separate groups and provide only one intervention. In our clinic we combine ultrasound with other synergistic modalities that work together to accelerate the healing response. In order for the ultrasound to be effective the proper frequency and intensity must be used to heat and stimulate the affected area. This is another reason why some people have reported ultrasound to have been ineffective in their case.
If you have not tried therapeutic ultrasound to heat and increase blood flow in combination with myofascial release to reduce fascial restrictions and break up scar tissue followed by supportive taping of the affected muscles and joints you should consider it as a potential solution for your specific problem. It is also important to keep in mind that an accurate diagnosis is necessary in order to deliver the ultrasound to the proper region with the appropriate frequency and intensity or else it would be largely ineffective.