Many people who hear the term ultrasound likely picture a pregnant woman in their doctor's office getting a sneak peek of the baby growing inside her womb; But while fetal imaging is one of the most common uses of ultrasounds, this diagnostic tool actually has many applications.
Yes, doctors use ultrasound to look at babies in the bellies of expectant mothers. But this technology is also used by chiropractors and therapists to generate vibrations deep in the body’s tissues. These vibrations can help treat pain conditions and spur cell regeneration, speeding up the healing process. Ultrasound therapy is a noninvasive treatment in which sound waves are used to penetrate soft tissues, increasing blood flow.
Ultrasound therapy has been known to increase tissue relaxation, stimulate local blood flow, and aid in scar tissue breakdown. Local blood flow can help reduce local swelling and chronic inflammation by delivering more nutrients to the infected area. According to some studies, it may even promote bone fracture healing. Ultrasound therapy is often used to treat injuries and muscle spasms, as well as chronic issues like neck or back pain.
A typical ultrasound treatment will take from 3-5 minutes depending on the size of the area being treated. In cases where scar tissue breakdown is the goal, this treatment time can be much longer. During the treatment the head of the ultrasound probe is kept in constant motion. If kept in constant motion, the patient should feel no discomfort at all. If the probe is held in one place for more than just a few seconds, a build up of the sound energy can result which can become uncomfortable. Interestingly, if there is even a very minor break in a bone in the area that is close to the surface, a sharp pain may be felt. This occurs as the sound waves get trapped between the two parts of the break and build up until becoming painful. In this way ultrasound can often be used as a fairly accurate tool for diagnosing minor fractures that may not be obvious on x-ray.
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