Ultrasound Therapy for Chronic Pain
People who suffer from chronic pain are usually willing to try anything to feel some relief. Many are quick to turn to the use of medication, but that only masks the pain—it doesn’t heal the body. Plus, due to the over-prescription of medications problem in the United States, people are looking for alternative treatments.
One of these new treatment options for chronic pain is ultrasound therapy. Physical and occupational therapists use ultrasound therapy to relieve pain and promote tissue healing. It is not effective for all types of pain, but it may work out for you. Some conditions it seems to help include bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, sprains, osteoarthritis, and other ailments.
Types of Ultrasound Therapy
There are two kinds of ultrasound therapy: mechanical and thermal. Both methods use sound waves made by a transducer probe to penetrate soft tissues within the body. A medical professional will apply the probe to the affected area and slowly move it around so the sound waves can penetrate the body. The main difference between the two methods is the rate at which the waves penetrate the tissue. Thermal ultrasound therapy uses a continuous transmission of sound waves. The rate is fast enough that it vibrates the transducer and sends microscopic vibrations deep into the tissue, increasing the heat and friction. That warming encourages healing in the soft tissue by increasing the metabolism at the cellular level.
Mechanical Ultrasound therapy uses slower waves and sends pulses of sound waves to penetrate the tissue. This slight warming method causes expansion and contraction of the tiny gas bubbles within the soft tissues. It helps decrease the inflammatory response, reducing tissue swelling and pain.
Is it Safe?
Ultrasound therapy is a noninvasive procedure. Meaning there are no shots, incisions, or any foreign objects entering your body. All machines have the same basic components—from the Philips EPIQ 7 to Siemens machines. They all have a transducer probe, monitor, and control panel. Trained and licensed technicians operate all machines and the exam is completely painless; you shouldn’t feel any discomfort during it. You may feel a slight chill when the sonographer applies the gel, and you might feel warm in the area the sound waves penetrate. If the technician keeps the probe constantly moving, there is no danger. If the probe sits in one place for too long, there is a chance it can burn the tissue underneath. You may or may not feel any effects from this.