Therapeutic Ultrasound

An examination of the effectiveness of therapeutic ultrasound as a treatment for chronic inflammatory conditions.

This paper discusses therapeutic ultrasound, a physical modality used in the treatment of a plethora of medical and surgical conditions by many health care practitioners. Although widespread use of therapeutic ultrasound suggests efficacy, its specific physiological and therapeutic effects remain questionable. In particular, it examines how chronic inflammatory conditions are specific musculoskeletal conditions in which the acute inflammatory process is unable to restore the tissue to its original state. It looks at how, over the past few decades, chronic inflammatory conditions like tendinitis have increased dramatically, and the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of one of the most utilized modalities for the treatment of these conditions has grown.
“Absorption, reflection, refraction and acoustical streaming are primarily responsible for the ability of ultrasound to produce biophysical effects. (8) The biophysical effects of ultrasound are grouped into two classifications, thermal and non-thermal. Thermal effects of ultrasound are mainly a result of absorption and reflection. They include increased blood flow, increased tissue extensibility, increased pain threshold, increased macrophage activity, increased collagen deposition, and reduction of muscle spasm. Non-thermal effects of ultrasound are mainly a result of acoustical streaming. Acoustical streaming is defined as the unidirectional flow of tissue fluids. These effects include tissue regeneration, wound healing, reduction of edema, synthesis of protein and collagen, and changes in cell membrane permeability.”