Many people know ultrasound as a diagnostic imaging tool that allows doctors to see inside the body. However, ultrasound can also be used therapeutically to help with healing. Ultrasound therapy is a non-invasive and painless treatment that uses sound waves to penetrate tissues. Mechanical energy gets passed from an ultrasound wand, through a gel medium, to create molecular vibrations or oscillations in the tissue. This helps to increase blood flow, relieve pain, decrease swelling and inflammation, improve cell proliferation and collagen alignment, increase tissue elasticity and mobility, and promote soft tissue healing. Therapeutic ultrasound is beneficial for various types of musculoskeletal conditions, such as muscle pain or spasms, arthritis, nerve pain, tendon injuries, ligament injuries, bursitis, acute sprains and strains, and many more. Ultrasound can be used at any stage of healing.
A typical ultrasound treatment is usually between 5 to 10 minutes. Your practitioner will put some gel on the body part in focus and slowly move the transducer head back and forth on the skin. Ultrasound is generally painless unless the transducer is left on the same spot for too long. (Patients must notify the practitioner right away if they experience any discomfort.) Treatment is safe for most people; however, there are some instances where ultrasound cannot be used. Your practitioner will review the risks and contraindications with you prior to treatment.