What is an ultrasound?

Sound waves transmit mechanical energy via their movement. Ultrasound refers to a sound beyond the range of human hearing. The frequency range of human hearing lies between 20 hertz and 20 thousand hertz. Beyond this range, the sound produced is known as ultrasound. Ultrasound has been used in the arena of healthcare for a long time. It was first used in sonography as a means to produce images of the inner workings of the body.

A more interesting, and far lesser known, use of ultrasound is in physiotherapy. Therapeutic ultrasound is a treatment modality that has been used by physiotherapists since the early 1940s. It has been used as a means to treat deep tissue injuries for many years now.

How does it work?

The process is conducted by a practitioner moving a hand-held device akin to a transducer over the intended area of effect. Additionally, a transmission coupling gel is used on the skin. The physical therapist would first apply the gel to the intended area. The gel allows for the waves to easily penetrate the skin. The therapist would then move the device over your skin in repetitive motions. This is a non-invasive method of penetrating the skin in order to sensitize it.

Ultrasound is used to reduce local swelling and inflammation. It allows for an increase in the efficacy of blood flow under the skin. The treatment is known to increase the rate of blood flow in case of a clot under the skin. This allows for the body to be able to heal itself more efficiently.

Types of therapeutic ultrasound

There are two types of therapeutic ultrasound. Their main difference is in the rate of penetration of the soft tissue. These two types are:

  • Thermal ultrasound: Sound waves are used to create minute vibrations underneath the skin. This produces heat under the skin, allowing for an increase of the metabolism rate.
  • Mechanical ultrasound: In this mode, pulses of sound penetrate the soft tissues. This causes them to expand and contract, creating movement and a decrease in inflammation.

What is ultrasound used to treat?

Therapeutic ultrasound has been used to treat deep tissue injuries and chronic pain. It is used when manual therapy and massages are not enough. It is a physical therapy technique that allows for nerve stimulation under the skin. Some of the diseases and ailments the therapy cater to include:

  • Tendinitis
  • Epicondylitis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Chronic pain
  • Acute pain due to fractures

The benefits of the treatment

Ultrasound therapy is used in cases where patients are averse to the use of needles. It is non-invasive, so the mechanical energy is used to get the intended area sensitized. The medication is gently coerced through the skin membrane. Ultrasound therapy is known to cause:

  • an improvement in the circulation of blood
  • a faster recovery from fractures
  • the better breakdown in clots and scar tissues
  • better healing rates
  • a rejuvenation of damaged tissue

Ultrasound is a certified mode of physiotherapy treatment. With more innovative technology, the modality sees improvement every passing day.

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