Therapeutic ultrasound refers generally to any type of ultrasonic procedure that uses ultrasound for therapeutic benefit. This includes HIFU, lithotripsy, targeted ultrasound drug delivery, trans-dermal ultrasound drug delivery, ultrasound hemostasis, cancer therapy, and ultrasound assisted thromboloysis. It may use focused ultrasound (FUS) or unfocused ultrasound.
Ultrasound is a method of stimulating the tissue beneath the skin's surface using very high frequency sound waves, between 800,000 Hz and 2,000,000 Hz, which cannot be heard by humans.
Ultrasound in Physical Therapy
Ultrasound is applied using a transducer or applicator that is in direct contact with the patient's skin. Gel is used on all surfaces of the head to reduce friction and assist transmission of the ultrasonic waves. Therapeutic ultrasound in physical therapy is alternating compression and rareaction and of sound waves with a frequency of >20,000 cycles/second. Therapeutic ultrasound frequency used is 0.7 to 3.3 MHz. Maximum energy absorption in soft tissue occurs from 2 to 5 cm. Intensity decreases as the waves penetrate deeper. They are absorbed primarily by connective tissue: ligaments, tendons, and fascia (and also by scar tissue).
Conditions which ultrasound may be used for treatment include the follow examples: Ligament sprains, Muscle Strains, Tendonitis, Joint Inflammation, Facet Irritation, Impingement Syndrome, Bursitis, and Scar Tissue Adhesion.
Relationship to “Tommy John Surgery”
Ultrasound is another modality that physical therapists can use to help a patient with their pain around the elbow joints. Ultrasound is essentially a machine that uses sound waves to generate heat within a body part. What the therapist will do with the patient is use a sound head or something that you would see similar in a doctor's office where they do sonograms on pregnant women, and they put a little gel on the sound head and your body part. And, in a circular motion, we just rub around the elbow joint, and what that will do is generate heat in that joint, which will help with overall blood flow circulation. It will also help loosen up tissues to allow them to respond better to stretch or any other manual techniques that the therapist will be using such as to loosen up tight joints or tight muscles. It also helps prepare the body part for just general activity before an exercise program. Ultrasound can also be helpful in acute injuries for non-thermal effects, meaning no heat is generated, but it can help increase blood flow so that way inflammation or swelling can be reduced.