Ultrasound is a physical therapy modality that is applied using a small round probe or wand that is lightly pressed on the patient's skin directly over the area requiring treatment. There are two main types of ultrasound used in our office…Continuous Ultrasound and Trigger Point Ultrasound.
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Trigger Point Ultrasound, aka Combination Therapy: As its name implies, combination therapy is electrical stimulation combined with a pulsed ultrasound in an effort to achieve the best physiologic effects of both modalities simultaneously.
This treatment reduces muscle spasm and tightness, decreases myofascial pain and aides in the reduction of active trigger points, which are focal areas of taunt muscle fibers or what most people refer to as "muscle knots".
The stimulation is brought up in intensity only to your comfort and tolerance, and the treatment dose is between 6 and 10 minutes. These combined therapies, when used together, can more accurately localize where edema, muscle spasm, trigger points or nerve irritation is. This allows us to precisely apply and concentrate the treatment directly to the involved tissues.
Continuous Ultrasound is generated by the piezoelectric effect which causes vibration of crystals in the ultrasound wand. These sound waves pass through the skin and can penetrate into the deep muscles and joints to allow vibration of the local tissues. This vibration causes deep heating. The patient will only feel a mild warmth on the skin. The therapist will move the ultrasound wand in continuous small circular motions with gentle, but firm pressure.
This treatment can cause an increase in muscle and tissue relaxation, an increase in local blood circulation, a decrease in healing time and it aides in breakdown of scar tissue. Another positive effect of the increased blood flow is seen in the reduction of local swelling and chronic inflammation. The treatment dose is between 6 and 10 minutes.
Where deep heating is contraindicated, such as, acute injury or acute inflammation, the ultrasound can be applied in pulsed waves rather than continuous waves. In this case, the patient will not experience the sensation of warmth and may feel nothing at all, but the treatment dose is being applied.