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What Does Therapeutic Ultrasound Do?

Author: Tyler J Tonso, DC

ultrasound on womans shoulderMany people hear of ultrasound and they think of a device that uses sound waves to construct images inside the human body. But did you know ultrasound has long been used as a therapeutic device to decrease swelling and increase healing for a variety of injuries? Sprained ankles, sore elbows, and achy backs can all be helped from the relatively common therapeutic device. The sound waves produced by an ultrasound machine are absorbed by tissues up to 5 inches below the skin which has a number of positive physiological effects at different stages of healing.

Acute Stage

In acute injuries ultrasound causes a release of histamine which attracts neutrophils and monocytes to the injured area. Together these cells help clear the injured area of foreign substances in the area and promote healing. Overall, the main effect from ultrasound during this stage is a decrease in swelling and pain.

Proliferative Stage

After the acute stage ultrasound helps what we call the proliferative stage by stimulating fibroblast activity. Fibroblasts are stimulated which then secrete collagen. The collagen secretion helps increase the tensile strength and wound contraction of the injured area. This not only helps the injured area heal faster, but makes the area stronger and less susceptible to injuries in the future. Also at this stage of healing the ultrasound machine is used at a different frequency that produces heat in the area it is being used. This heat promotes blood flow to the area which helps deliver nutrients required for healing. The increased blood flow also helps remove toxins and other broken down substances.

How It Can Help You

These physiological changes caused by the ultrasound have many benefits in all types of soft tissue injures. Tennis elbow, heel pain, back sprains, and patellar tendonitis are just a few of the common injuries that can be helped with therapeutic ultrasound. If you have any further questions about ultrasound and how it can help you, please contact us at 307-514-5964.

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