Ultrasound is a deep heating treatment used to treat many musculoskeletal conditions like sprains, strains, or tendonitis. Ultrasound is administered by our physical therapists using an ultrasound machine. A wand called a sound head is pressed gently against your skin and moved in small circular sweeps near the site of injury. A small amount of gel is used so the ultrasound waves are absorbed into the skin and muscles.
Ultrasound is a modality that our physical therapists use to help a patient with their pain. It is a machine that uses sound waves to generate heat within a body part. 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 promote bone fracture healing. The intensity or power density of the ultrasound can be adjusted depending on the desired effect. A greater power density is often used in cases where scar tissue breakdown is the goal.
Some conditions treated with ultrasound include tendonitis, non-acute joint swelling, muscle spasm, and even Peyronie’s Disease (the breaking down of scar tissue). Contraindications of ultrasound include local malignancy, metal implants below the area being treated, local acute infection, vascular abnormalities, and directly on the abdomen of pregnant women. It is also contraindicated to apply ultrasound directly over active epiphyseal regions (growth plates) in children, over the spinal cord in the area of a laminectomy, or over the eyes or skull.
Ultrasound can also be used to achieve phonophoresis. This is a non-invasive way of administering medications to tissues below the skin; perfect for patients who are uncomfortable with injections. With this technique, the ultrasonic energy forces the medication through the skin. Cortisone used to reduce inflammation, is one of the more commonly used substances delivered in this way.