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Physiotherapy Treatments: Ultrasound Therapy

A common misconception  with physiotherapy treatments is that they are limited to massage techniques and stretching prescription. This is of course not true, as the modern methods which our physiotherapy team use utilise technology to a great extent. One such method used, is that of Ultrasound therapy. Chartered Physiotherapist Úna Na Mhainin (of our Drumcondra clinic in Dublin) explains how this technique is employed by our physiotherapists. Úna answers some of the more frequently asked questions with regard to the therapy…

What is Ultrasound Therapy ?

Ultrasound therapy is an electrotherapy which has been used in physiotherapy practices for many years. It is mainly used for its non-thermal effect where high frequency sound waves cause vibrations and movement of cellular fluids.

Proposed benefits of ultrasound therapy include improving the healing rate of certain soft tissues.

It is thought to :

  • Increase blood flow to an area in order to accelerate the resolution time of the inflammatory process.
  • Stimulate the production of collagen (the main protein in tendons and ligaments) during tissue healing. 

Common Injuries Treated with Ultrasound

What to Expect 

A small amount of gel will be applied to the body part to be treated. A transducer (sound head) which is attached to the ultrasound machine will be placed onto the gel and moved in small circles by the physiotherapist. The physiotherapist will set the machine to deliver the appropriate depth and intensity of sound wave required.

You will most likely not feel anything happening throughout the ultrasound treatment. If you do experience discomfort or pain let your physiotherapist know immediately.

How Safe is It?

Ultrasound therapy is a safe and innocuous treatment technique. However there are situations when ultrasound therapy is not appropriate. Your qualified physiotherapist will ensure that it is an appropriate technique for you and discuss it with you. Certain examples where it would definitely not be used are; over body parts with cancer, in pregnant women and in children.

Does It Work?

Studies have shown that ultrasound therapy can improve symptoms and healing in various soft tissue conditions but the quality of the evidence is often poor. Most recent studies have shown that ultrasound therapy has a high likelihood of a placebo effect and that long term benefits are minimal.

Due to the lack of substantial evidence for significant benefits ultrasound may be used in conjunction with other more research-supported manual hands-on techniques (based on our physiotherapists assessment of you). Our physiotherapists will decide based on the injury or condition that you are encountering. If you would like to be treated by Úna in Drumcondra be sure to mention her name when you are booking an appointment!