Don’t Let Pain Take Over Your Life — Consider Ultrasound Therapy
It seems like the country is starting to shift away from the heavy use of opioids for pain and looking at alternative ways to treat pain. Certainly, opioids are still being used, but the outcry against the addiction to prescription pills that’s swept the nation has made experts look at other methods. One such method that’s been popular recently is ultrasound therapy. It can help with many types of chronic pain, like osteoarthritis, phantom limb pain, or even carpal tunnel pain. Ultrasound therapy has also been used to treat certain kinds of nerve pain as well. Given that around 20 million people in the United States have some kind of peripheral neuropathy as a result of nerve damage (which can manifest itself as weakness, numbness, or pain), this kind of therapy can give patients huge relief.
What is Ultrasound Therapy?
Ultrasound therapy has actually been around for a while, since the 1940s, and has been used therapeutically since then. It generally tends to be in the frequency of range of 0.8 to 3.0 MHz. The two types commonly used are thermal ultrasound therapy and mechanical ultrasound therapy. Both use sound waves to get through soft tissue, but the rate of the transmission is the main difference between them.
Thermal ultrasound therapy transmits sound waves more continuously, while mechanical ultrasound therapy relies on sound waves pulsing. Thermal ultrasound therapy promotes warmth and healing by boosting the tissue cell’s metabolism. With mechanical ultrasound therapy, small gas bubbles expand and contract in the soft tissues, which helps reduce the inflammatory response. This leads to a reduction in tissue swelling and pain.
An area of your body is typically chosen to work on and gel is applied to either the head of the tool or your skin, and the transducer head is continuously passed over that area for about five to ten minutes.
What are the Advantages of Using This for Nerve Pain?
For one thing, unlike many treatments for nerve pain, this is non-invasive and non-addictive. No other tissues or areas are affected and it targets a specific area in your body, instead of being a more holistic treatment, which often is not needed. For the almost 60% of people living with chronic pain, who report that it decreases their quality of life, ultrasound therapy can be a godsend.
For example, those living with trigeminal neuralgia can have their lives changed when they use focused ultrasound therapy. Trigeminal neuralgia is a kind of chronic pain that affects the trigeminal (your fifth cranial nerve). The trigeminal is far reaching, with three branches that move sensations from the mouth, upper, middle, and lower portions of the face to the brain. Trigeminal neuralgia is most common in women and those over the age of 50 and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke say it affects around 12 out of every 100,000 people a year.
Focused ultrasound can help destroy the pain fibers that exist, in a non-invasive and lower cost way as compared to surgery. It also reduces the chances of infection or further tissue damage and can be repeated if necessary.
How Do I Know If I Qualify For Ultrasound Therapy?
If you think that ultrasound therapy might provide relief for your chronic pain or nerve pain, you should consult with your doctor. He or she may be able to tell you that this type of treatment will or will not work for your condition or refer you to an ultrasound therapist who can give you more information and assess your condition.
Even if it doesn’t treat the type of pain you have now, it’s worth continuing to check back, since new research and studies develop annually. You may also be referred to ultrasound therapy on the recommendation of a physical therapist or occupational therapist.
You don’t have to live in pain or live with the fear of becoming addicted to opioids. There are other ways to manage your pain and ultrasound therapy is a wonderful option, if it works for your condition. Talk to your doctor to learn more.