You may already be familiar with ultrasound imaging, a type of technology that uses high-frequency sound waves to send pictures of your internal organs and other structures to a video screen for viewing.
Although ultrasound therapy also harnesses high-frequency sound waves, this mode of treatment is used to deliver deep, therapeutic heat to the soft tissues of your body. Also like ultrasound imaging, ultrasound therapy involves the use of a hand-held device known as a transducer. When your doctor moves the transducer around an injured area, it emits painless sound waves that travel through your skin and into the injured tissues.
Physical therapists and physicians have been using ultrasound therapy to promote injury rehabilitation for more than five decades. Although researchers still don’t know the exact mechanisms behind the treatment’s beneficial effects, it’s thought that ultrasound therapy provides two main benefits:
Ultrasound therapy causes a deep-tissue vibration that boosts the production of heat within the tissue, which in turn increases range of motion for ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, and other soft tissue structures. This thermal effect is also thought to help trigger the healing process while reducing pain and muscle spasms.
Ultrasound is also believed to efficiently accelerate the inflammatory process by increasing blood flow to the injury site and stimulating collagen production. This can be useful for healing, as the treatment may improve the mobility of mature collagen and decrease the formation of fibrous scar tissue.
The physicians at WolMed use ultrasound therapy as a complementary treatment for physical therapy patients who are recovering from a painful injury that limits their mobility. Ultrasound therapy may be used to relieve a variety of problems, including:
This condition is often the result of the wearing down of the tendon that connects muscle to bone in your shoulder, elbow, wrist, or knee. It can be caused by excessive joint activity or arthritis.
This painful condition occurs when the fluid-filled sac, or bursa, that helps cushion the bone of your shoulder, elbow, hip, or knee become inflamed. Bursitis often accompanies tendonitis or rotator cuff injuries.
The splitting or tearing of tendons in your major joints can be caused by an injury or the degenerative changes associated with aging. Rotator cuff injuries, for example, are one of the most common shoulder tendon issues.