How does ultrasound work?
Ultrasound waves are high frequency waves that are not audible to the human ear. ultrasound gel is applied to the surface of the skin to provide maximal contact and then ultrasound head is moved in the region of the injury transmitting the energy into the tissues.
Ultrasound can also be applied underwater which is also a medium for ultrasound waves to travel through. A combination of ultrasound within a massage treatment can have positive effects on repair, recovery and pain.
Effects of therapeutic ultrasound
As the ultrasound waves pass from the treatment head into the skin they cause the vibration in the surrounding tissues, particularly those that contain collagen. This increased vibration leads to the production of heat within the tissue, this increase in temperature may accelerate the healing process in structures such as ligaments, tendons, scar tissue, and fibrous joint capsules and may also help to reduce pain and increase comfort.
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 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 phase of tissue injury.
Ultrasound may also stimulate the pr
oduction of collagen which is the main protein component in soft tissue such as tendons and ligaments. Ultrasound can have a positive effect on fibrous scar tissue which may form after an injury too, sometimes scar tissue can develop with thicker less flexible fibres. This can reduce the individuals ability to mobilise the limb/ joint and cause more long term issues. The application of ultrasound can enhance the quality of forming tissues, preventing reduced ROM.
As blood flow may be increased it is not advised to use ultrasound immediately after injury.
Application of ultrasound:
Ultrasound is normally applied by use of a hand held device with small metal treatment head. making contact with the special ultrasound gel. The soundwaves are emitted through the device into the tissue. This is moved continuously over the skin for up to 10 minutes. Treatments may be repeated 1-2 times daily for more acute injuries and less frequently in chronic cases.
Ultrasound dosage can be varied either in intensity or frequency.
The use of ultrasound within a sports/ deep tissue massage can be very beneficial in getting clients back to normal function and further improving their mobility. Less pain and increased comfort can make all the difference in someone wanting to get up and get moving. Many clients report a marked improvement after just one session. In more chronic cases clients report a stabilising of their condition and over a period of a few weeks, an improvement in their confidence and ability to continue advised exercise and stretches.