We get this all the time:
“On my script it has ultrasound checked off. I just want to know what is ultrasound and what is it used for?”
There are two types of ultrasound: Diagnostic and Therapeutic.
Diagnostic: Sound waves are used to create a real time image
Therapeutic: (What we use) To put it simply, the ultrasound machine produces an electrical current that is converted into acoustic energy through the transducer.
In order for this acoustic energy to be absorbed into the body, we use a coupling agent. This is where the blue gel comes into play. This gel decreases acoustical impedance by eliminating as much air as possible. This allows us to more effectively direct this energy to our target area
Why do we use it?
Therapeutic ultrasound is considered a deep heating agent, so unlike moist heat and hot pads, ultrasound can increase tissue temperature at a depth of 5 cm. This allows us to more effectively treat deep structures like muscle. Ultrasound has the potential to decrease pain, muscle spasms and joint stiffness as well as help facilitate tissue repair.
We personally like to use ultrasound early on in a patient's rehabilitation when movement and exercise is contraindicated or not well tolerated.
With that said, ultrasound is not indicated for everyone and their are contraindications that your therapist must screen for prior to providing treatment
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Dr. Tony Tanzi: Physical Therapist, Triathlete, Runner, Performance Coach