What is Ultrasound Therapy?
Ultrasound therapy as a treatment modality has been used by therapists over the last 50 years to treat soft tissue injuries. Ultrasonic waves (sound waves of a high frequency) are produced by means of mechanical vibration of the metal treatment head of the ultrasound machine. This treatment head is then moved over the surface of the skin in the region of the injury. When sound waves come into contact with air it causes a dissipation of the waves, and so a special ultrasound gel is placed on the skin to ensure maximal contact between the treatment head and the surface of the skin.
What Equipment Ultrasound Do We Employ?
At Ace Physio our highly trained practitioners use the Intelect Legend Ultrasound – Dual Frequency System by Chattanoga. The Intelect® Legend Ultrasound is well known for exceptional clinical performance and Intelect® is a name the clinical rehabilitation community has come to rely upon. The dual frequency ultrasound (1 and 3.3 MHz) features a 5 cm2 soundhead which offers 10%, 20%, 50% pulsed duty cycles (for acute and sub-acute conditions) and a continuous duty cycle (for a thermal effect), as well as head warming for patient comfort.
Ultrasound Therapy Effects & Benefits
Effects on the Inflammatory and Repair Processes:
One of the greatest proposed benefits of ultrasound therapy is that it is thought to reduce the healing time of certain soft tissue injuries. Ultrasound therapy is thought to accelerate the normal resolution time of the inflammatory process by attracting more mast cells to the site of injury. This may cause an increase in blood flow which can be beneficial in the sub-acute or chronic phase of tissue injury.
Ultrasound therapy may also stimulate the production of more collagen- the main protein component in soft tissue such as tendons and ligaments. Hence ultrasound therapy may accelerate the the proliferative phase of tissue healing. Ultrasound therapy is thought to improve the extensibility of mature collagen and so can have a positive effect to on fibrous scar tissue which may form after an injury.
Thermal Effect (Only produced when ultrasound on a continuous duty cycle):
As the ultrasound waves pass from the treatment head into the skin they cause the vibration of the surrounding tissues, particularly those that contain collagen. This increased vibration leads to the production of heat within the tissue. In most cases this cannot be felt by the patient themselves. This increase in temperature may cause an increase in the extensibility of structures such as ligaments, tendons, scar tissue and fibrous joint capsules. In addition, heating may also help to reduce pain and muscle spasm and promote the healing process.
Application of Ultrasound
Ultrasound is applied by the use of a small metal treatment head which emits the ultrasonic beam. Ultrasound therapy dosage can be varied either in intensity or frequency of the ultrasound beam. Simply speaking lower frequency application provides a greater depth of penetration and so is used in cases where the injured tissue is suspected to be deeply situated. Conversely, higher frequency doses are used for structures that are closer to the surface of skin.