Therapeutic ultrasound is a treatment modality used by chiropractors to help care for a variety of conditions. This form of therapy employs high-frequency sound waves (that can't be detected by the human ear) to stimulate soft tissues of the body in order to ease pain and tightness and promote healing. Therapeutic ultrasound is different from a diagnostic ultrasound that is used to take images inside the body for the purpose of diagnosing and monitoring specific conditions.
Therapeutic ultrasound increases relaxation of soft tissues and local blood flow, which reduces inflammation and swelling. It is especially effective when used on ligaments, tendons, fascia (connective tissue that covers the muscles) and joint capsules. Ultrasonic vibration also helps break down scar tissue.
Types of Therapeutic Ultrasound
There are two types of therapeutic ultrasound: thermal (deep heating) and mechanical (non-thermal). The thermal form of therapeutic ultrasound provides heat to soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and tendons) of the body through continuous sound waves. The heat helps increase circulation to these tissues, aiding the healing process—and the treatment can reduce pain by helping to increase movement and flexibility of the tissues.
The non-thermal (mechanical) form of therapeutic ultrasound uses alternating frequencies to cause microscopic gas bubbles to form around soft tissues in the targeted area. The bubbles act on cell membranes to help heal injured ligaments, tendons or muscles. It is believed that non-thermal ultrasound treatments boost healing by speeding up biological processes.
Common Conditions Treated by Therapeutic Ultrasound
Chiropractors may treat a variety of soft tissue injuries and pain related to other musculoskeletal conditions with therapeutic ultrasound. Some of the most common conditions include:
- Frozen shoulder
- Muscle strains and tears
- Joint tightness or contracture
- Pain from osteoarthritis
- Myofascial pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Phantom limb pain
- Scar tissue pain
- Strains and sprains
- Low back pain
- Neck pain
- Rotator cuff tears
- Knee meniscus tears
While therapeutic ultrasound can be used to treat several different conditions, it should be avoided with certain medical conditions and is not recommended for use over growing or fractured bones, numb areas of the body or cancerous tissues. In addition, the treatment should not be used on pregnant women, over sexual organs and breasts, over any open wounds or skin lesions, around the eyes, or near metal or electrical implants or pacemakers.
Why See a Chiropractor for Therapeutic Ultrasound?
There's no need to suffer from pain when a licensed chiropractor can help you find relief. If you are suffering from a soft tissue injury or a condition affecting your musculoskeletal health, adding therapeutic ultrasound to your treatment approach may bring relief and a faster recovery time. At the chiropractic clinic, we will examine you to determine the root cause of your condition, and upon diagnosis, your treatment options will be discussed. If you are considered a good candidate for it, ultrasound therapy may be one of those options to enhance your healing.