Ultrasound Therapy

How Does Ultrasound Therapy Work?

Ultrasound therapy is a treatment used by our Chiropractic Physicians and Chiropractic Assistants to relieve pain and to promote tissue healing.

Ultrasound therapy is effective for many chronic pain conditions, it may help reduce your pain if you have any of the following:

A person receiving ultrasound therapy

Types of Ultrasound Therapy

The two main types of ultrasound therapy are thermal and mechanical. Both use sound waves generated by a transducer head (which looks a bit like a microphone) to penetrate soft tissues.

The difference between the two types of ultrasound therapy is the rate at which the sound waves penetrate the tissues.

Thermal ultrasound therapy uses a more continuous transmission of sound waves.

The sound waves cause microscopic vibrations in deep tissue molecules, increasing heat and friction. The warming effect encourages healing in soft tissues by increasing metabolism at the cellular level.

Mechanical ultrasound therapy uses pulses of sound waves to penetrate tissues.

While this still has a minor warming effect, it also causes expansion and contraction in tiny gas bubbles in soft tissues. This decreases the inflammatory response, which reduces swelling and decreases pain.

The type of ultrasound therapy you get depends on your condition. For myofascial pain, strains, or sprains, thermal ultrasound therapy is typical. For scar tissue or swelling, like with carpal tunnel syndrome, mechanical ultrasound may work better.

How Ultrasound Therapy Is Performed

When you go in for ultrasound therapy, your therapist will select a small surface area to work on for anywhere from five to 10 minutes.

A gel is applied either to the transducer head or to your skin, which helps the sound waves evenly penetrate the skin.

During your ultrasound therapy treatment, your therapist will continually move the transducer head over and around the selected area.

Will I Feel Anything?

Some people feel a mild pulsing during ultrasound therapy, while others may feel a slight warmth in the skin.

Don’t be surprised, however, if you feel nothing at all, apart from the cold gel on your skin. If the area being treated is especially sensitive to touch, you could possibly feel discomfort as the transducer head passes over.

Ultrasound therapy, however, should not be painful.

Is Ultrasound Therapy Safe?

Ultrasound therapy is deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided it is performed by a licensed person and provided the therapist keeps the transducer head moving at all times.

If the transducer head remains in one place for too long, there is a potential to burn the tissues underneath, which you may or may not feel.

Ultrasound therapy should not be used on these body parts:

  • Over the abdomen, pelvic regions, or lower back in women who are menstruating or pregnant
  • Over lesions, broken skin, or healing fractures
  • Around the eyes, breasts, or sexual organs
  • Over any areas with plastic implants
  • Over or near areas with malignant tumors
  • Over areas with impaired sensations or blood flow

Additionally, it should not be used on people who have pacemakers.

Does Ultrasound Therapy Work?

Studies show that it can effectively control certain types of chronic pain.  When a hot pack cannot reach deeper layers of the body, ultrasound can reach these areas. Ultrasound therapy is a safe and reliable treatment method that may offer significant improvement, its warming effects help heal injured tissue.