Most people are probably familiar with the use of ultrasound during pregnancy. It’s a wonderful tool that allows imaging and monitoring of the fetus. But did you know that the same technology can be used for so much more? If you suffer from chronic pain, for instance, ultrasonic therapy can be a source of relief. Read on to discover what this treatment can do for you.
What is Ultrasound Therapy?
Ultrasound, sometimes called sonography or ultrasonography, is a very high frequency sound. Humans are unable to hear the sound, but they definitely benefit from the results. This technology allows technicians to “see” on a monitor different structures in the body including organs, tendons, muscles, vessels, and joints. This same technology also assists in healing tendons, joints, and muscles. Chiropractors often use ultrasound therapy for this purpose.
There are two main categories of ultrasound therapy. Both of them use sound waves that penetrate through the skin to soft tissues beneath. The first, thermal ultrasound, supplies a continuous delivery of soundwaves. It is usually used for chronic pain. Mechanical therapy is the second, and it works by supplying pulses of sound waves. This type is used more often for shorter term conditions, such as injuries.
The soundwaves created from ultrasound technology have shorter wavelengths than many other sounds. This allows them to travel faster and also reflect back from objects better than others. In this manner, ultrasound waves travel through bones and tissue, then reflect back, providing the images most of us are familiar with. The heat from the ultrasound penetrates deep into tissue which also is an effective method for treating pain and injuries.
How Does Ultrasonography Work?
Ultrasound therapy works by using an applicator similar to a wand with a head that resembles a microphone. This is called a transducer head. The trained therapist will apply gel to either the transducer head or the area of the body to receive treatment. The gel helps to conduct sound waves evenly. The therapist then moves the applicator wand in small circles around the target area. Each treatment usually lasts from five to ten minutes.
The FDA states ultrasound therapy as a safe process as long as a licensed professional provides the treatment. It should never be painful, but you might feel some slight discomfort if the area of an injury or pain is sensitive. Sound waves will cause a vibration in the target area. Some people do notice some tingling or warmth, but many people feel no sensation at all.
During ultrasound therapy, a condition called hyperemia occurs. This basically means that as tissue temperature increases, blood flow also increases. This helps to decrease inflammation and speeds healing. Another common effect from ultrasound therapy stems from the vibration of tissue that occurs during treatment. This vibration appears to prompt the repair of cells in areas of inflammation.
What Does Ultrasound Therapy Treat?
Ultrasound therapy is particularly helpful in treating back and neck issues, including whiplash, muscle strains, back pain, and also can be effective in treating arthritis. In addition to the other benefits, it can reduce the muscle soreness that sometimes occurs while working to increase mobility and range of motion. The deep reaching heat of the ultrasound therapy encourages the body’s natural healing abilities and helps to increase circulation and decrease stiffness.
Ultrasound therapy, while proven effective, is only a temporary solution, so you may need frequent treatments for the best results. This therapy is often used in conjunction with other therapies to increase benefits. This may include chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, massage, stretching, heat therapy, and others that your chiropractor or other health care professional might suggest.
Who Can Benefit from Ultrasound Therapy?
Ultrasound therapy assists in the break-down of scar tissue, stimulating localized blood flow, and promoting the relaxation of tissue. This is important, because increasing localized blood flow can help to reduce inflammation and swelling in the targeted area. Some studies also indicate that ultrasound therapy can help promote healing in bone fractures.
The following are just some of the conditions that ultrasonography may be able to improve:
- Sprain and strains
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Myofascial pain
- Phantom limb pain
- Pain caused by scar tissue
Ultimately, ultrasound therapy can be successful for many different conditions. The treatment acts almost like a massage that aids in the reduction of swelling and increase of blood flow. It also helps to decrease pain, stiffness, and spasms. Whether the pain or injury comes from an event like a car accident or if it something more chronic and long lasting, ultrasound therapy can be an excellent alternative to other common treatment methods.
Are There any Risks Associated with Ultrasonography?
Ultrasound therapy is a very low risk treatment option for pain; however, doctors don’t generally recommend it for patients with blood clots. Treatment could potentially increase the risk of a clot dislodging. It is also not ideal for use in a target area with a malignant tumor or an acute infection or in someone with vascular abnormalities. As with all medical treatment, your health care professional will be able to evaluate your risks and assist in deciding if ultrasound therapy is right for you.
Ultrasound is an effective, proven, technology your chiropractor or other medical professional might utilize to help reduce your inflammation, increase mobility, and reduce pain. If you are living with chronic pain, or have recently suffered an injury, consider consulting your health care provider and/or chiropractor to see if ultrasound therapy may be right for you. Why suffer when there is a relatively painless, low-risk alternative that may provide the relief you’ve been seeking?
If you want to learn more about treating your inflammation or pain with ultrasound therapy, please contact A Family Chiropractic Clinic at (940) 566-0000 today. Our experienced staff can provide a full evaluation as well as explain how this type of therapy may be beneficial to you.