I recently purchased a Chattanooga ultrasound therapy machine for my clinic so thought while I'm brushing up on my knowledge of how it helps during rehab, I'd explain what it is and how it might be able to help you if you come to me with an injury. I'll give a brief overview to save the boring A-level physics lesson!
And no... it's not quite the same as when you're having a baby and go for a scan...
What is Ultrasound Therapy?
Ultrasound therapy is a form of electrotherapy and is widely used to treat soft tissue injuries. The machine consists of a computer-like body and produces ultrasonic waves through a metal applicator head. These waves are of high frequency and produced by mechanical vibration of the metal treatment head. The applicator is moved across the surface of the skin, sending the waves down through a gel which allows the waves to be transferred through the tissue and to the injury site.
How does it work?
As the waves pass through the skin, they produce small vibrations which leads to heat production within the tissues. This increase in temperature improves the extensibility of the structures (muscles, ligaments, tendons etc) whilst reducing pain and promoting the healing process.
The main benefit of ultrasound therapy is that it increases the recovery time of certain injuries. It is said to speed up healing by drawing more cells to the injury and increasing bloody flow. It can also increase the amount of collagen that is produced to repair a damaged structure, again speeding up the healing process. As mentioned above, tissue extensibility is increased which may have positive effects on current scar tissue produced after injury.
How is ultrasound applied?
Depending on the site, duration, type and severity of your injury, the application will vary slightly but the principles behind it remain very much the same. Your therapist will select the correct settings and time of application for you. A small metal head will be covered in ultrasound gel to apply the therapy. It will then be moved across your skin for usually around 3-5 minutes. It won't be painful; you usually won't feel a thing at the time.
Ultrasound can be used on the following conditions/injuries:
- Muscle strains
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Cartilage injuries
- Fractures (low intensity required)