How do you know if therapeutic ultrasound therapy may be a treatment option for you?
You have tendonitis, joint tightness, stiff muscles, or a ligament injury.
You want to speed up recovery time.
One of your treatment goals is to improve flexibility and restore your range of motion.
Helping the body heal itself naturally is a priority for you.
What is therapeutic ultrasound used to treat?
You may be thinking of images captured of the womb during pregnancy when you hear the word “ultrasound.” That kind of ultrasound is used to capture images of organs and other soft tissues.
Therapeutic ultrasound does not capture images. It is a treatment tool used to help treat chronic pain, increase blood circulation to the tissues, and promote healing the body. Therapeutic ultrasound is used to treat:
- Back pain
- Joint inflammation
- Ligament sprains
- Low back pain
- Muscle strains
- Reduced ranges of motion
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Shoulder pain
- Sports injuries
- And more!
*There are a wide range of therapies available at Loehr Health Cetner. Your provider will discuss which treatments they think may be a good fit for you including other forms of therapy like prolotherapy, decompression therapy, or seeing a chiropractor.
What is therapeutic ultrasound?
Ultrasound therapy, or therapeutic ultrasound, is a medication-free and non-invasive medical treatment. It is used to treat a wide range of muscle, ligament, and tendon conditions. There are two types of ultrasound therapy that are practiced: thermal and mechanical. Both types of therapeutic ultrasound promote soft tissue healing.
Thermal Ultrasound Therapy
Thermal ultrasound therapy, or thermal therapeutic ultrasound, is used to apply deep heat to a specific area. The therapeutic ultrasound then deep heats the soft tissue to increase blood circulation to the tissues—decreasing pain and promoting healing. This may be used to help improve muscle flexibility and restore range of motion.
Mechanical Ultrasound Therapy
The goal of mechanical ultrasound therapy, or mechanical therapeutic ultrasound, is to speed up a process in the body called cavitation. Cavitation occurs when slight vibrations in the soft tissue from the ultrasound machine create gas bubbles near the injury that rapidly expand and contract. By reducing the swelling and inflammation due to injury, the body is able to self-heal. Mechanical ultrasound therapy is also used as a method to help break-up scar tissue or fibrosis.
The benefits of thermal and mechanical ultrasound when used separately are positive—but they are even better together. For patients receiving therapeutic ultrasound at Loehr Health Center, we use a combination of thermal and mechanical ultrasound simultaneously.
The primary clinical applications for ultrasound therapy are
- Alleviating pain without an invasive procedure or medications
- Increasing blood flow to the targeted area
- Reducing pain
- Stimulating muscles
- Improving range of motion
- Reducing inflammation
Ultrasound Therapy FAQs and Answers
You are clothed as much as possible during your interferential therapy session. Your provider will ask you to lie on your stomach or back on a therapy table. Depending on the area being treated, you may be asked to sit upright, offered a gown, or be in a private therapy room for the treatment.
Your provider will then apply a gel to either your skin or the transducer head. This helps the sound waves penetrate the skin evenly. The therapist will then continually move the transducer head around and over the area being treated.
An ultrasound therapy session is eight to ten minutes.
Loehr Health Center’s clinical team takes a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to managing and treating health disorders. Ultrasound therapy is usually part of an individualized treatment plan that includes spinal adjustments with a chiropractor and a personalized rehabilitation plan with recommended exercises. The cost of ultrasound therapy per treatment is $30.
Ultrasound therapy is a non-invasive treatment with minimal side effects. Patients report a warm feeling during the treatment. You should not feel discomfort during the treatment.
While very unlikely, one potential risk of therapeutic ultrasound is that the rapid pressure changes during cavitation could cause a “microplosion” and damage cellular activity. This is very rare and unlikely to occur in most uses. While safe for treating certain conditions, therapeutic ultrasound is not recommended to use over
- Open wounds, lesions, or healing fractures
- Any plastic implants
- The abdomen, low back, or pelvic regions in women who are menstruating or pregnant
- Around breast, eyes, or sexual organs
- Near areas with malignant tumors
- Areas with impaired sensations to blood flow
Ultrasound therapy should not be used near a pacemaker. Notify your provider immediately if you feel any discomfort during a therapeutic ultrasound treatment.
Therapeutic ultrasound is not covered by insurance.
For many other services at our office, we are in-network with various insurance companies. We will run your insurance benefits prior to your first appointment so that you know what is covered before receiving treatment.
The type of and frequency of treatments that are recommended to you’re you achieve your health goals depends on the severity of your condition and pain level.
Your doctor will complete an exam and discuss any recommended diagnostic or lab tests needed with you at your first appointment. At your Report of Findings appointment (usually the second appointment), your doctor will review the results of your exam and any tests like x-rays, MRIs, and/or lab work.
At that time, your doctor will review their recommended treatments, the frequency of care, and the action plan.
Loehr Health Center is committed to providing all of our patients with exceptional care. When a patient cancels without giving enough notice, they prevent another patient from being seen. Please call us at 417-887-8075, 24 hours prior to your scheduled appointment to notify us of any changes or cancellations. If prior notification is not given, you will be charged for the missed appointment.
Ultrasound Therapy Research
Effects of therapeutic ultrasound on pain, physical functions and safety outcomes in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis | Clin Rehabil. 2016 Oct;30(10):960-971. Epub 2015 Oct 8. doi: 10.1177/0269215515609415.
Conclusion: “The authors suggested that therapeutic ultrasound is beneficial for reducing knee pain and improving physical functions in patients with knee osteoarthritis and could be a safe treatment.”
Conclusion:“The literature suggests that low-dose ultrasound is an effective complementary therapy for wound healing.”