Ultrasound is a form of elecrotherapy. It has a number of medical uses, most commonly being used for imaging of internal body structures (known as 'diagnostic ultrasound' - for example in pregnancy or to visualise kidneys or other internal organs) or it can be used for its therapeutic effect - in which case the ultrasound is used for its direct effect on soft tissues of the body - without any image being formed.
It is the therapeutic form of ultrasound that is sometimes used by our physiotherapists and osteopaths in the practice, as it is helpful in the reduction of inflammation, improvement in blood supply to soft tissues, reducing pain, the promoting the healing of injuries and breakdown of scar tissue.
Ultrasound is applied using the head of an ultrasound probe placed in direct contact with your skin, using a water-based gel to aid transmission of the high frequency sound wave from the ultrasound head, through the skin and into the tissues. Therapeutic ultrasound generally penetrates into the soft tissues to a depth of 3-5cm.
Properly applied, ultrasound is extremely safe. It is painless and many patients feel no sensation whatsoever. You may feel a slight tingling or buzzing, and some gentle warmth as the treatment progresses. Ultrasound is generally delivered for a period of just 3-6 minutes as part of a treatment session.