Ultrasound Therapy for Chronic Pain

Ultrasound therapy is sometimes used by physical and occupational therapist to treat pain conditions. Ultrasound therapy also promotes tissue healing and inflammation. Some studies flip flop on whether or not this form of therapy is effective for chronic pain conditions. It may, however, help reduce pain in certain types of pain conditions. The type of ultrasound therapy you receive will depend on the type of pain you’re experiencing.

Types of Ultrasound Therapies

Mechanical Ultrasound Therapy: This form of therapy utilizes pulse sound waves to penetrate soft tissue. There is a slight warmth during the treatment, but heat isn’t the focal point of treatment. Patients may experience a decrease in inflammation, swelling and pain.

Thermal Ultrasound Therapy: A more continuous transmission of waves is used during treatment. Microscopic vibrations penetrate deep tissue molecules causing heat and friction. This promotes healing in soft tissue.

How Does It Work?

During a session, your therapist will apply a gel to the area that needs treatment. This will allow the sound waves to evenly penetrate the skin. A transducer will be placed on your skin and continually moved for possibly up to 10 minutes. If the transducer stays in one location too long, there is a possibility burned tissue underneath the skin may develop. This may or may not cause pain.

Some patients feel a mild warmth, pulsing or nothing at all during treatments. It should not be painful, but if the area of skin is sensitive, you may feel some discomfort.

Ultrasound therapy is safe when conducted by a licensed therapist. This form of therapy should not be used on people with pacemakers. The ultrasound transducer should never be placed around the eyes, near areas with malignant tumors, broken skin, lesions or plastic implants.

Ultrasounds have been shown to work very well with fibromyalgia flare-ups. Home ultrasound machines are now available for fibromyalgia treatments. Talk to your physician to see which at-home options are available for you if you. The ultrasound machine has to be FDA approved.

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