What Does Ultrasound Do?
Deep body effects.
Ultrasound is often used to provide relief to deep soft tissue
structures in the body. Ultrasound therapy aides deep tendons,
muscles or ligaments by increasing circulation to those tissues, which
is thought to help the healing process.
Ultrasound therapy can be used to increase the "stretchiness" of muscles and tendons that may be tight. If you have shoulder pain and have been diagnosed with a frozen shoulder, your therapist may use ultrasound to help improve the extensibility of the tissues around your shoulder prior to performing range of motion exercises. This may help improve the ability of your shoulder to stretch.
Non-thermal effects (cavitation or ultrasound therapy). Ultrasound introduces energy into the body. This energy causes microscopic gas bubbles around your tissues to expand and contract rapidly, a process called cavitation. It is theorized that the expansion and contraction of these bubbles help speed cellular processes and improves healing of injured tissue.
How Is Ultrasound Applied?
Ultrasound is performed with a machine that has an ultrasound transducer (sound head). A small amount of gel is applied to the particular body part; then your therapist slowly moves the sound head in a small circular direction on your body. The therapist may change various settings on the ultrasound unit to control the depth of penetration of the ultrasound waves or change the intensity of the ultrasound. Different settings are used in various stages of healing.
Alternative methods of ultrasound application are available if the body part is boney and bumpy, or if there's an open wound.
Your therapist may use ultrasound gel combined with a topical medication to help treat inflammation around soft tissue in the body. This process is called phonophoresis.
What Does Ultrasound Feel Like?
While you are receiving an ultrasound treatment, you will most likely not feel anything happening, except perhaps a slight warming sensation or tingling around the area being treated.
If the ultrasound sound head is left in place on your skin and not moved in a circular direction, you may experience pain. If this occurs, tell your therapist right away.
Common Injuries Treated with Ultrasound but are not limited to:
Muscle strains and tears
Sprains and ligament injuries
Joint contracture or tightness