Using therapeutic ultrasound in physiotherapy

Ultrasound therapy machine is a treatment commonly used in physical therapy to deliver deep heat to soft tissues in the body. These tissues include muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments.

Ultrasound in physical therapy is different from diagnostic ultrasound. With ultrasound in imaging, doctors use an ultrasound machine to see inside the body. For example, Diagnostic Ultrasound allows doctors to examine the fetus during pregnancy.

What is therapeutic ultrasound?

Therapeutic ultrasound is used to heat tissues and deliver energy into the body.

Deep heating effect

When ultrasonic waves are absorbed, heat is generated to help relax muscles, dilate blood vessels, increase circulation, increase oxygen and nutrients, and promote an early end of the inflammatory process.

Ultrasound can deliver deep heat to soft tissue structures inside the body. Deep heating of tendons, muscles or ligaments offers the following benefits:

  • Increase circulation to the tissues
  • Speed ​​up the recovery process
  • Pain relief
  • Increase elasticity

A physical therapist (VLTL) may use a therapeutic ultrasound machine before performing a range of range of motion exercises because it can help improve muscle contractility.

Cavitation effect

In addition to heat, ultrasonic waves deliver energy into the body. This energy causes the microscopic air bubbles around your tissues to expand and contract rapidly, a process known as cavitation.

The expansion and contraction of these bubbles is thought to speed up cellular processes and help injured tissues heal more quickly.

Ultrasound has mechanical effects on tissues such as increasing membrane permeability, increasing absorption, activating metabolism, and softening adhesives.

This therapy should be performed by a qualified physiotherapist, your physiotherapist will work to ensure that the treatment is stable and does not cause unwanted side effects. would like.

How does a therapeutic ultrasound machine work?

Ultrasound therapy machine

Inside the therapeutic ultrasound machine uses a small crystal. When an electric charge hits this crystal, it oscillates at a high speed (charge builds up in some solid materials). These waves are emitted from the ultrasonic generator of the machine.

During treatment, ultrasound waves will enter your injured tissues. This ultrasonic exposure increases blood flow and foaming, providing the positive effects outlined above.

When should ultrasound therapy be used?

Doctors may use therapeutic ultrasound to treat some injuries and chronic pain.

They may include:

  • Unblocking milk ducts after giving birth
  • Bursitis (inflammation in the fluid-filled sacs along the joints)
  • Tendonitis
  • Muscle strain and tear
  • Stiff shoulder
  • Sprains and ligament injuries
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Peripheral circulatory disease
  • Reduce pain, reduce muscle spasms

In general, any soft tissue injury in the body can benefit from ultrasound therapy. For example, your doctor may use ultrasound to treat low back pain, neck pain, a torn rotator cuff tear, a torn knee meniscus, or an ankle sprain.

Chronic pain

There is some evidence that patients have positive results from ultrasound treatments if you have chronic pain. Ultrasound helps to improve tissue repair and circulation, increase mobility, and ultimately reduce pain.

How is therapeutic ultrasound performed?

ultrasonic generator (ultrasound)

Therapeutic ultrasound machines use an ultrasound transmitter (ultrasound). First, the doctor applies a small amount of gel to the part of the body to be treated; Then, the therapist slowly moves the ultrasound head in a circular direction over the part of the body to be treated.

What does therapeutic ultrasound feel like?

During ultrasound treatment, you will probably not feel anything, except maybe a slight warming or tingling sensation around the treatment area.

If the ultrasound head is kept on your skin for too long without moving in a circular direction, you may experience pain. If this happens, tell your physical therapist right away.

Install the therapeutic ultrasound machine

The physiotherapist can change the settings of the therapeutic ultrasound machine to control the penetration depth of the ultrasound waves or change the intensity of the ultrasound waves. In addition, they may use different settings depending on the stage of treatment.

Install the therapeutic ultrasound machine

Your doctor may use ultrasound gel in combination with topical medication to help treat inflammation around soft tissues in the body. This process is called phonophoresis.

Overview of therapeutic ultrasound machines

Therapeutic ultrasound does not cause pain in the body. The doctor may also use different settings or different application methods depending on the patient’s condition.


There are some cases when ultrasound therapy should not be used at all. Contraindications to ultrasound may include:

  • On an open wound
  • On metastatic lesions (cancer has spread) or any active areas of cancer
  • On areas of decreased sensation
  • On parts of the body with metal implants
  • Near the pacemaker
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Around the eyes, breasts or genital organs
  • Fracture
  • Near an implanted electrical stimulator
  • On an area of ​​acute infection

Therapeutic ultrasound has few side effects, but burns can still occur if used incorrectly.

Should I use ultrasound therapy?

Ultrasound therapy may not work for everyone, but it may be worth a try if you have chronic, ongoing pain.

Ultrasound is a passive treatment. In other words, you can’t do it yourself; Let your physical therapist advise your treatment, and you should combine it with an active exercise program to help improve your mobility.

In particular, since it’s unlikely to have unwanted side effects for most people, it might be worth a try, especially if you have chronic pain. You need to be actively involved in the rehabilitation process so that you can ensure that you recover to normal function safely and quickly.

Using an ultrasound machine to treat blocked milk ducts after birth

Using an ultrasound machine to treat blocked milk ducts after birth
Using an ultrasound machine to treat blocked milk ducts after birth

Blocked milk ducts are common after birth due to many reasons, therapeutic ultrasound machines are popularly used to treat this condition at an early stage to help prevent blockages from getting worse.

What is a milk duct?

Ducts inside the breast carry milk from deep inside the breast to the openings of the nipple, to feed the baby. Sometimes these milk ducts can become blocked or blocked, leading to a tender, painful lump or hard area in the breast. You should be able to feel this lump in the breast under the skin. The skin around the lump may also be red and warm.

Blocked milk ducts will resolve without special treatment if treated within 24 to 48 hours of initiation.

Is it mastitis?

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that is usually caused by blocked milk ducts but is not treated early and can become infected. Mastitis is accompanied by fever and flu-like symptoms (joint pain, fatigue). Mastitis needs to be seen by a doctor and may require antibiotics which may interfere with breastfeeding.

Early treatment of blocked milk ducts can help prevent Mastitis from occurring or prevent blocked milk ducts from getting worse.

Effect of ultrasound in the treatment of blocked milk ducts

Therapeutic ultrasound machines use sound waves that cause vibrations deep within the tissues to gently increase heat and friction. The warming effect enhances blood supply and heals soft tissues.

This can be used to dissolve clots in the milk ducts to help clear the milk ducts and is beneficial in preventing blocked ducts from occurring in the same location in the breast.

The ultrasound head is applied gently over the blocked milk duct area, gently moving towards the nipple. You will feel slight warmth and the treatment is painless.

Each ultrasound treatment is recommended for 5 minutes at a dose of 2 watts/cm2 and usually only needs to be done 1-2 times on the following days.

After treatment, you should try to breastfeed the affected side after 20 minutes and continue to feed on that side. You can also use a milking machine if needed.

Source: Editorial

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