What To Know About Ultrasound TherapyDecember 16, 2020 9:08 pm Comments Off on What To Know About Ultrasound Therapy
There’s more to ultrasound than checking in on a pregnancy. Ultrasound waves, or sound waves that lie beyond the upper limit of human hearing, have a number of medical and scientific uses, but their utility is by no means limited to the laboratory. Doctors have used ultrasound technology for therapeutic purposes for over 70 years, but in the last 40 years, the range of therapeutic applications has grown considerably with the advent of focused, high-intensity ultrasound. Today, that range has expanded to include medical devices that alleviate pain and accelerate recuperation without even requiring the direct supervision of a doctor. Truly, these sound waves are the sound of a new era in medicine. You can learn more about ultrasound, its high and low-frequency applications, and all it can do for you in this guide to what to know about ultrasound therapy.
Ultrasound and Radiation
Is ultrasound radiation? This is an important distinction to begin with, for it is always important to establish what ultrasound is not. It’s easy to confuse ultrasound with ultraviolet: both denote something that lies beyond human senses. But sound waves are not part of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation: they are distinct from ultraviolet light, microwaves, radio waves, and X-rays. Unlike X-rays and high-UV light, ultrasound is non-ionizing, which means it does not destabilize atoms and molecules by removing electrons. Ionization, unlike ultrasound, can cause serious damage to tissue.
How Does It Work?
The path that ultrasound therapy takes to heal your body is not necessarily an intuitive one. You may not believe it till you feel it. Nonetheless, it rests upon solid principles of physics and biology. We’ll begin by examining a general ultrasound therapy device. At the tip of the device is a transducer, or a small crystal that is highly receptive to electricity. The electric current causes the crystal to vibrate, and in doing so, to emit a high-frequency sound wave. You or your therapist will direct the transducer over the part of the body you are looking to address. This will send the ultrasonic waves into the tissue in question.
As the waves penetrate the tissue, the vibrations generate heat, which is believed to accelerate the healing process. The heat and vibrations break down scar tissue, which assists in healing muscles and restoring a full range of motion. The sound waves also relax muscles, allowing elevated blood and lymph flow to the affected area. By directing more lymph flow to the area, the body can better stave off infection and rebuild damage. In addition to these effects, a reduction in inflammation can reduce pain by lowering the pressure the inflammation places on neighboring tissue.
What Is It Used For?
Ultrasound therapy has a variety of uses, but is most effective in the treatment of soft and connective tissue injuries. This primarily encompasses damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The repair of muscle tears may be the most reliable application of ultrasound therapy. Studies have shown that daily, low-intensity therapeutic ultrasound can mend torn muscles when a standard regimen of ice, compression, and elevation has been insufficient by drawing blood and lymph to the site of the tear and increasing blood flow. Tendons, which connect muscle to bone, can also benefit from ultrasound therapy in the wake of an injury. In addition to repairing the protein-based tissue in the tendon, ultrasound therapy can aid in the synthesis of collagen as well, which serves to fortify the tendon.
Ligaments, which connect bones to each other in our joints, often seem to recover more strongly from injury with ultrasound therapy than without. And carpal tunnel syndrome, a case of nerve damage in the wrist, is still another case where ultrasound therapy can begin to accelerate the healing process, specifically the notoriously slow healing of nerve tissue. One of the greatest breakthroughs in therapeutic ultrasound was in the development of lithotripsy, or the breaking up of kidney stones so that they may be safely passed without causing the excruciating pain that so often has attended the passing of kidney stones. Another source of severe pain, trigeminal neuralgia, may find its solution in ultrasound therapy: when anticonvulsant medication proves insufficient, doctors may choose to ablate, or precisely damage, parts of the trigeminal nerve with high-frequency ultrasound so as to prevent painful and debilitating neuralgia attacks in the face and jaw.
Is It Safe?
A level of risk attends any medical procedure, but ultrasound therapy under a doctor’s supervision or with a device approved for home use carries a low risk. As explained above, ultrasound does not involve ionizing radiation, which should assuage patients’ concerns about radiation-derived cancers. However, a little ultrasound goes a long way, and the heat that ultrasound generates can be harmful to tissue if the ultrasound device is left in one place for too long. If you begin to feel discomfort, notify the doctor operating the device or cease your use of the device. As versatile and useful as ultrasound therapy is, doctors contraindicate ultrasound technology in certain circumstances. Ultrasound therapy is not recommended for people with pacemakers due to the disruptions that it may cause. Open wounds such as abrasions and lacerations should not be exposed to therapeutic ultrasound waves. And while pregnant women benefit from ultrasound scans to monitor their pregnancies, doctors do not recommend therapeutic ultrasounds. However, for most people in most instances, ultrasound therapy is a safe alternative or supplement to traditional healing regimens.
Ultrasound on Your Time
Hopefully, this guide to what to know about ultrasound therapy has answered some of your questions about ultrasound, what it does, and what it doesn’t do. But perhaps the biggest takeaway should be that therapeutic ultrasound must no longer necessarily be administered under a doctor’s care. The NanoVibronix family of products—the PainShield, WoundShield, and UroShield—harness the benefits of ultrasound therapy in the palm of your hand, whether at home or on the go. These therapeutic ultrasound machines are now available to relieve pain, accelerate healing, and reduce the risk of infection on not only an outpatient basis but with no day-do-day supervision but your own.
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This post was written by Elyse