Ultrasound is a therapeutic modality commonly used in physical therapy to provide heat to tissues located deep within the body. It is also thought that ultrasound helps to improve cellular mechanisms and therefore, speed healing.
But does ultrasound even work? There is an ongoing debate in physical therapy if ultrasound adds any benefit in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. Ultrasound does heat the tissues of the body. Does it heat those tissues better than something active, like exercise? Probably not.
Does ultrasound improve cellular mechanisms, and is this required to have a positive outcome in physical therapy? Most studies indicate that people who use ultrasound for a specific condition do no better that those who receive sham, or fake, ultrasound.
Bottom line: if your physical therapist uses ultrasound in your treatment, be sure to ask questions about its use, and make sure that you are also actively engaged in your rehabilitation.
- Read more: When Should you NOT Receive Ultrasound?