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Understanding Ultrasound for Physical Therapy Pain Management


Therapeutic ultrasound is an extremely effective modality for physical therapy in Casper, WY.  When most people hear the term ultrasound they do not equate it with pain management; the average person usually imagines a procedure done on expectant moms to check the progress of the pregnancy. The history of ultrasound is extensive and therapeutic ultrasound has been used by physical therapists since the 1930s for pain management and deep healing. Therapeutic ultrasound is just one of the many modalities used at North Platte Physical Therapy to promote health and healing.
  • What is Therapeutic Ultrasound?  Ultrasound waves are sound waves that exist beyond the scope of human hearing. These waves are generally in the vicinity of about 0.8 – 3.0 MHz, while we can hear somewhere in the ranges of 20Hz. These waves are used to generate heat and motion within the body to promote healing.
  • How does Ultrasound Therapy Work?  Ultrasound waves are administered through use of a wand place directly on the patient’s skin, generally using a protective gel. Treatment times for any one area is generally between 3 and 5 minutes. The sound waves, or ultrasound rays, penetrate within the body generating heat increasing blood flow, and relaxing muscles and connective tissues thereby reducing pain and muscle spasms. The stimulation of these tissues in this way encourages repair and can greatly reduce the healing time of certain injuries.
  • What is Ultrasound Therapy Used for?  Ultrasound therapy is used for a variety of injuries and conditions. One of the most recent uses is breaking up calcified stones in the gallbladder and kidneys. The most common uses in the physical therapy environment involve muscle and tissue injuries and chronic pain. It has shown to be effective for sports injuries, tendonitis, bursitis, and a variety of ligament and tendon injuries. It is also used to treat lower back pain, sprains, and joint contracture, such as frozen shoulder. By loosening tissue, burning off cell waste, and improving circulation to treated areas, range of motion is often increased.
  • Does Therapeutic Ultrasound hurt?  No, not at all. It is a completely non-invasive procedure. As the wand is pressed against your skin you may feel some heat and tingling but that’s all that most people experience when undergoing this type of treatment.
  • Can Anyone Use Therapeutic Ultrasound?  Therapeutic Ultrasound is generally safe for everyone with a few exceptions. Those suffering from hemophilia should not receive this type of treatment. This is also not a therapy generally practiced on those patients who have a pacemaker. If you have received cortisone injections over the past 30 days be sure to let your physical therapist know as they will want to avoid direct contact with that area. Ultrasound will never be performed on those with open sores or lesions. Be sure to alert your therapist if you are on antibiotics for an active infection of tissue or bone.
Ultrasound my speed your healing and increase the effectiveness of your physical therapy regimen. If you would like to discuss the possibility of this modality with a physical therapist in Casper, WY, please click here to fill out our contact form.  Our expert staff will be happy to discuss which forms of treatment would be best to help you obtain your physical goals.