What is Therapeutic Ultrasound?
Therapeutic Ultrasound is a method of stimulating tissue beneath the skin's surface using sound waves. It is a very high frequency massage that can penetrate up to 5" below the surface of your skin.
The sound waves are of a very high frequency, typically between 800,000Hz and 2,000,000Hz. The sound can not be heard by humans or animals. Humans can only hear sounds up to about 20,000Hz. These high frequency waves affect tissue on the cellular level, energizing the tissues causing them to vibrate. Furthermore, the nutrient absorption rate and blood flow in the area are greatly enhanced.
When applied directly to the skin, an ultrasound head cannot effectively transfer the sound waves into the body. To make it work properly, a conductive medium is required - ultrasound gel. The gel simply makes it possible for the sound waves to travel from the unit head into your body. Ultrasound without gel is ineffective and can damage the ultrasound machine.
Therapeutic Ultrasound has 2 primary benefits. First, it increases blood flow in the treated area which speeds the healing process. Second, it reduces swelling and edema which are the main sources of pain.
Ultrasound can also be used to administer therapeutic medicines into the body. In such a case there are 3 benefits to a treatment, the first two from the massaging effect of ultrasound discussed above, and the third from administering the medication. This is a process known as phonophoresis. Ultrasound with Phonophoresis is rapidly becoming more popular than Ultrasound Therapy alone.
An incredibly wide variety of ailments are treated using ultrasound. Essentially, anywhere there is a desire to promote blood circulation and reduce swelling and edema, ultrasound will help.
Injuries to the tendons, ligaments, muscles and cartilage are treated primarily with ultrasound. Ultrasound helps to reduce swelling and edema which in turn greatly reduces the pain from the injury. The stimulated tissue and increased blood flow speed the healing process. Typically, these types of injuries are very slow to heal and because people continue to try to use the injured body part, the injury is repeatedly stressed. Regular applications of ultrasound over the duration of the healing period will significantly reduce pain and the time to heal.
As a therapeutic massage device, ultrasound is very effective at reducing muscle tension. People who suffer muscle tension headaches and migraines use ultrasound on the back of the neck. This is a very common procedure used by massage therapists and chiropractors for headache sufferers. People receiving treatments often describe the sensation as 'the machine seems to suck the tension and pain right out of my head through my neck'. In reality what is happening is the ultrasound is releasing the trigger points which are the source of the pain.
Massage therapists are increasingly offering ultrasound treatments in conjunction with regular massage as a pain free method of releasing trigger points and knots in all the muscles. Using ultrasound on the trigger points of injured muscles helps to relax the muscle from the trauma of the injury. When relaxed the muscle can heal from its injury much more quickly and more effectively with less scar tissue. While full body ultrasound treatments are not practical, ultrasound treatments on localized trouble areas are very effective.