What is the purpose of therapeutic ultrasound therapy?
Therapeutic ultrasound therapy is used to promote tissue healing, reduce swelling and inflammation, decrease pain and muscle spasm, and promote an increase in range of motion.
How does therapeutic ultrasound therapy work?
Inside the transducer (known as the sound head) of a therapeutic ultrasound unit is a crystal. An electric charge is applied to the crystal which makes the crystal vibrate. This creates an ultrasonic field of waves which are transmitted through a gel conducting media into the body at the site of treatment. The ultrasonic waves entering the treatment site have thermal and mechanical effects on the underlying tissues. The thermal effect is due to the absorption of ultrasonic energy at the molecular level in proteins. The mechanical effects are due to micro streaming and cavitation. Micro streaming is the flow of intracellular fluid in the ultrasonic field, movement of material throughout the cell, and an increase in cell membrane permeability. Cavitation is the expansion and contraction of gas filled bubbles or cavities within the tissues creating a vibratory motion. This motion has also been called the micro massaging action of therapeutic ultrasound therapy.
Is treatment painful?
Therapeutic ultrasound treatment should not be painful. When done correctly the patient should experience a gentle feeling of warmth in the treatment area.
How is therapeutic ultrasound applied?
A small amount of gel is applied to the body area to be treated and then the transducer head is slowly moved in either circular or brush stroke motions over the treatment area. The intensity of the device will be increased until a gentle feeling of warmth is experienced. The duration of the treatment session depends upon the area being treated but usually ranges from 10 to 30 minutes.