What is Therapeutic Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a therapeutic modality that has been used by physical therapists since the 1940s. Ultrasound is applied using a round-headed wand or probe that is put in direct contact with the patient's skin. Ultrasound gel is used on all surfaces of the head in order to reduce friction and assist in the transmission of the ultrasonic waves. At Health Box Clinic we use therapeutic ultrasound in the frequency range of about 0.8-3.0 MHz.

The waves are generated by a piezoelectric effect caused by the vibration of crystals within the head of the wand/probe. The sound waves that pass through the skin cause a vibration of the local tissues. This vibration or cavitation can cause a deep heating locally though usually no sensation of heat will be felt by the patient. In situations where a heating effect is not desirable, such as a fresh injury with acute inflammation, the ultrasound can be pulsed rather than continuously transmitted.

Because of its ability to promote faster, better tissue healing than what we can see without treatment, many patients now seek therapeutic ultrasound in Chicago, IL. 

How Does Therapeutic Ultrasound Work?

Ultrasound can produce many effects other than just the potential heating effect. It has been shown to cause increases in tissue relaxation, local blood flow, and scar tissue breakdown. The effect of the increase in local blood flow can be used to help reduce local swelling and chronic inflammation, and, according to some studies, promote bone fracture healing. The intensity or power density of the ultrasound can be adjusted depending on the desired effect. A greater power density (measured in watt/cm2 is often used in cases where scar tissue breakdown is the goal. The therapeutic ultrasound dose can also be either pulsed or continuous. Some theories suggest that the treatment increases cellular activity, triggers healing through creating mild stress, or both. 

Overall, therapeutic ultrasound doesn’t skip steps in tissue healing. It stimulates activity of immune cells involved in controlling inflammation, which means the inflammatory phase of repair can end earlier. Cell regeneration in the affected area can then begin, and be more efficient compared to without treatment. If you already have scar tissue, it can help to change this from Type III into more functional Type I collagen, preventing loss of mobility. 

How Often Should Therapeutic Ultrasound Be Used?

Generally, a longer treatment period gives you better results, especially as many musculoskeletal complaints take months or even years to heal without intervention. At Health Box Clinic, we recommend sessions every one to two weeks in most cases, which we then space out as healing progresses. 

Indications and Contraindications

Clinical studies show that therapeutic ultrasound can safely benefit patients with a range of muscle, joint, and bone complaints. These may include osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle strains, and tendon injuries. Therapeutic ultrasound can also speed up the resolution of inflammation when no tissue repair is necessary. Additionally, if an injury has not healed satisfactorily, the treatment can help reorganize scar tissue so that it looks and acts more like normal tissue. 

Therapeutic ultrasound may be unsafe if you are prone to keloid scar formation, as this is a condition of collagen overgrowth and the treatment increases tissue proliferation. The eyes, genitalia, and exposed nerves should not receive ultrasound therapy. 

Is It Right for You?

Although therapeutic ultrasound parameters can be adjusted, it’s best for conditions affecting tissues with higher collagen content. Your ligaments, tendons, fascia (connective tissue surrounding the muscles), joint capsules, and scars will absorb the ultrasound most effectively. Therefore, injuries involving these will likely respond better than muscle or skin complaints. 

Therapeutic Ultrasound Used at Health Box Clinic 

There’s a good reason why a search for “therapeutic ultrasound near me” will lead you here to Dr. Lev Kipnis, D.N. Ph. D.  and Dr. Olga Arbitman, D.N.  at Health Box Clinic. Our highly qualified specialists will help you with your Therapeutic Ultrasound needs. Call us at 847-724-1777 or contact us online to schedule your visit and get initial consultation.

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