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Ultrasound Therapy and Its Application in Physical Therapy

About Ultrasound Therapy Machine

What is Ultrasound Therapy

Ultrasound therapy is the implementation and application of Ultrasound Machine for treatment. Ultrasound therapy or Ultrasound Treatment uses sound waves and vibration for treatment of inner tissues, muscle and skeleton. It uses sound waves above the human hearing capacity for treatment. Ultrasound physiotherapy also known as ultrasonic therapy relieves pain, heals or repairs tissues and promotes blood flow to affected areas of body. Musculoskeletal sprains, muscle spasms, strain, runner’s knee and neuromas like severe problems can be treated with the help of Ultrasound therapy. Using different frequencies of sound at different intensities, there are many versions of this therapeutic ultrasound therapy. The basic theory followed for Ultrasound therapy in physiotherapy is to provoke tissues or stimulating them with sound waves.

Role of Emerging Machines in Ultrasound Therapy in Physiotherapy

Earlier Ultrasound machines were used for diagnostic purposes. They were limited to imaging applications only. Modern machines have made their place in the form of vibrating machines and sound waves which has implemented ultrasound therapy in physiotherapy. Researches and developments in the last decade has discovered various uses for ultrasound therapy for therapeutic applications such as healing for musculoskeletal injuries, cell repair for inner and deeper tissues, pain reduction, Shock Wave Lithotripsy and Ultrasound enhanced drug delivery. The working method of ultrasound therapy is to increase the flow of lymph to the affected area. It is the carrier of white blood cells in our body. White blood cells are the most important part of our body which promotes healing, fights infection and removes excess fluids from the body. Swelling and inflammation are treated effectively with ultrasound therapy for muscles, joints and even ligaments. Issues like not-acute joint swelling, tendonitis and chronic inflammation are the mostly treated issues till date.

Benefits of Ultrasound Therapy in Physiotherapy

Just like the Shortwave Diathermy Machine, Ultrasound therapy also has numerous benefits for the patients. This therapy breaks down scar tissue which in return increases blood flow. The sound waves heats the muscles and tissues which are injured and leads to the relaxation of muscles. Ultrasound therapy has provided a way to speed up healing for chronic issues.

Risks Involved in Ultrasound Therapy in Physiotherapy

Some cases are there which are not preferred for the use of ultrasound therapy. However, it mostly depends on the area where the treatment is supposed to take place. Still some precaution must be taken is several cases. The most complicated situation is with a pregnant woman. The machine must not be applied near the womb under any circumstances. The strong sound waves can hurt the baby. It can consequently also hurt the mother. Unforeseen damages can take place. The machine can be applied elsewhere on the body of a pregnant woman like hands, shoulders, legs etc.

Other Conditions to Avoid Ultrasound Therapy in Physiotherapy

Patients with cardiovascular issues should also avoid this treatment. No specific problem is yet mentioned but it is assumed that at such high frequency rates there can be some problem. People with malignant growths are also advised to avoid ultrasound therapy. This therapy must not be implemented on the head as it may cause damage to cells and also the nervous system. Human head is not capable of enduring at such high frequencies. The machine should not be taken anywhere near the testicles. Metal implants are another no go zone for ultrasound therapy as it can burn the metal or heat it to an unbearable level. The patient must wear off any metal accessories during the treatment as well. It should be avoided to use over the growth plates of a child’s body.

Average Time Required for Ultrasound Therapy

According to the research carried out in Europe PMC and Life Sciences Literature, the treatment time for ultrasound therapy in physiotherapy differs for different patient and their cases. For a normal case of muscle spasm, daily treatment time can be as less as 3 – 4 minutes per day or on alternate days. If the problems is more severe like inner tissues are damaged or ligaments treatment, the average time can be 5 to 10 minutes. This treatment can also follow either daily or on alternate basis, depending on the condition of the patient and progress made. Some special cases like tendonitis or acute joint swelling can require higher treatment time. For example they can take up to 20 minutes of treatment on a daily basis. However, this depends on the current condition of the patient. The physiotherapist can easily determine the time required by discussing the case with the patient. In some cases, treatment has to be experimented in which the time is gradually increased, depending on the feedback by the patient.

Frequency Applied in Ultrasound Therapy in Physiotherapy

An ultrasound machine uses a frequency of 1 or 3 Mhz. That means it generates sound waves at a frequency of 1 million cycles or three million cycles per second.  The wavelength at 1 Mhz frequency between targeted tissues is 1.5mm where the wavelength at 3 Mhz would be 0.5 mm.

Transmission of Ultrasound Waves through Tissues

The tissues will behave as impedance giving a passage for the sound waves while the treatment is going on. The density and elasticity of a tissue will determine the amount of impedance it can provide. This makes it difficult to travel through swollen or damaged tissues. That is the major reason for longer treatments in severe cases. As the tissues will not have the similar impedance, the waves will not reflect proper amount of energy which will slow down the treatment.