Performed with a handheld device, ultrasound therapy can provide soothing relief as well as promote healing in the body. However, for those unfamiliar with the practice of using therapeutic ultrasound technology, its purpose may be confused with ultrasound imaging. Let’s break down the benefits of ultrasound therapy, and whether it can be beneficial for you.
What is Ultrasound Technology?
To properly understand ultrasound technology, it’s easiest to start with the basics of sound. Put simply, sound is the energy things produce when they vibrate. While human ears can hear frequencies from 20 hertz (Hz) all the way up to a frequency of 20,000 Hz, frequencies used for medical ultrasound extend to 10 MHz and beyond. Any frequency above 20,000 Hz is known as ultrasound.
Ultrasound waves can be created using electrical equipment that forces a material to vibrate with an incredibly high frequency – a frequency that we could not produce manually by shaking or rubbing. The faster a material can vibrate, the higher the frequency of the sound waves that it emits.
How Does Ultrasound Therapy Work?
Ultrasound waves have shorter wavelengths than most sounds, meaning they travel faster through the air and reflect back from objects more effectively than ordinary sound can. In ultrasonic testing, waves travel through bones and tissue and reflect back up again, providing a detailed image of what is happening inside of the body. However, it’s the deep penetrating effects of ultrasound that prove incredibly beneficial when helping to heal injuries and relieve pain.
When receiving ultrasound therapy, two major effects occur in the body:
- Deep-heating: Similar to how taking warm baths help soothe sore tissue and provide pain relief, ultrasound waves penetrate deep into the tissue to provide a warming sensation at the source of pain.
- Cavitation: Ultrasound waves penetrate the skin and create bubbles in the tissue. These bubbles then burst, which fragments soft tissue with low fiber content without compromising the tissue structure surrounding it.
Both of these effects help catalyze the body’s natural healing process while effectively reducing inflammation, easing the pain and discomfort that commonly accompanies an injury. When receiving therapeutic ultrasound, your chiropractor will begin by placing a small amount of gel on the skin directly above the injured area. Next, they will utilize the handheld ultrasound device, known as a transducer, and slowly move in small, circular motions around the area.
Ultrasound units are equipped with various settings that your chiropractor can alter based on the desired depth of ultrasound penetration. These settings will vary as you progress through therapeutic ultrasound sessions. If there is inflammation present, your chiropractor may opt to use a topical medication to treat the swelling around the soft tissue during the therapy session.
What is the Purpose of Ultrasound Technology?
One of the most prominent benefits of ultrasound technology is the deep-heating it provides to soft tissue, including muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons. While receiving ultrasound therapy, the frequency of ultrasound wave vibrations increases tissue temperature such that circulation to the tissue is also increased, helping to alleviate pain. Plus, deep-heating provides a warming sensation to afflicted areas, helping to soothe the injury and promote healing.
Deep-heating provided by therapeutic ultrasound also aids in releasing tension in tight muscles and tendons. This can be especially useful if you are suffering from muscle stiffness, or if you’re suffering pain and limited mobility from scar tissue that has little to no elasticity or mobility. Your chiropractor can utilize ultrasound to improve tissue elasticity, increase range of motion, and relieve pain caused by tightness.
Aside from deep-heating, ultrasound therapy helps flood the body with energy. Ultrasound waves catalyze an effect in the body called cavitation, in which microscopic gas bubbles surrounding soft tissue expand and contract rapidly. Cavitation is believed to aid the cellular processes that work to repair injured tissue. When incorporated into a wellness and recovery plan, this treatment assists in alleviating pain and works to ensure a quicker healing time.
Who Can Benefit from Ultrasound Therapy?
Those suffering from soreness, tightness, or strains in the soft tissue are all excellent candidates for therapeutic ultrasound. In most cases, ultrasound therapy can be used to treat ailments such as:
- Back or neck pain
- Frozen shoulder
- Tennis elbow
- Muscle pain
- Sprains and strains
- Sore joints
- Degenerative disc disease
- Scar tissue remodeling
What Are the Risks of Ultrasound?
There is no evidence showing that ultrasound technology carries any risks. In fact, we use almost identical technology to complete ultrasonic scans on pregnant women to provide imaging of their developing babies. This noninvasive, soothing technique can be used on most any patient suffering pain.
However, to err on the side of caution, patients with a thromboembolic disease or blood clots should avoid ultrasound therapy as the deep-heat provided by the treatment may increase the risk of a clot dislodging.
Are you ready to start feeling your best? Pain relief can be an ultrasonic wave away. Contact ChiroCare of Florida today to schedule your next appointment.