How Is Ultrasound Used For Pain Treatment During Physical Therapy?

Question: How Is Ultrasound Used For Pain Treatment During Physical Therapy?

Answer: Ultrasound is another modality that physical therapists can use to help a patient with their pain. 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 the sound head on, say, your shoulder 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.


Laurie Sweet, P.T., Outpatient Physical Therapy, Johns Hopkins HospitalPlay

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