Benefits of Therapeutic Ultrasound for Osteoarthritis

Orthopedist doctor doing ultrasound examination of patient's knee in his office.

Therapeutic ultrasound is one of many tools used to treat pain and loss of joint function due to osteoarthritis. Pacific Arthritis is a team of experts in the fields of rheumatology, musculoskeletal conditions, and other related conditions. If you or a loved one is suffering from osteoarthritis, the Pacific Arthritis team offers proven methods for pain relief and movement and well as modern solutions offered in clinical trials. Our team is at the edge of treatment solutions and offers many proven solutions that fit your needs and lifestyle. 

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when cartilage in the joints has broken down over time. Commonly known as degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis, it causes pain, stiffness, and swelling at the joints of the body. It most commonly occurs in the hands, hips, and knees.

What Is Therapeutic Ultrasound?

Therapeutic ultrasound is a passive treatment used to treat osteoarthritis and other conditions. During treatment, an ultrasound machine produces ultrasonic waves that pass through your body. The high-frequency waves create vibrations that can reach deeper tissues. A mixture of continuous and pulsed ultrasound vibrations may be used for treatment. Continuous vibrations generate heat in the applied area while pulsed vibrations avoid the heat.

What is the difference between therapeutic Ultrasound and Diagnostic Ultrasound?

Diagnostic ultrasound is a method that many people are familiar with. Using similar high-frequency technology, diagnostic ultrasounds produce images of the internal structures of the body. These images are used to diagnose an injury or check on the fetus during pregnancy, Conversely, therapeutic ultrasound uses the waves and resulting vibrations to target treatment areas and does not take images.

How Therapeutic Ultrasound Works for Arthritis

The sound waves and vibrations are used to penetrate deep tissues and internal structures that cannot be treated externally. When using continuous ultrasound methods, a specialist is able to target an area of the body and provide healing heat, much like applying a heating pad to an external injury. Generally, heat will be applied for 5-10 minutes in specific areas to provide optimal relief.

What to expect?

The ultrasound machine works by sending an electric current through crystals found in the ultrasound probe, or ultrasound wand. The wand vibrates, causing waves to travel through the skin to the body underneath. The waves transfer energy to the tissues to cause the area to heat up or be stimulated. The greatest advantage of ultrasound therapy is that it can be focused on tissues deep within your body without affecting surface tissues.‌

During treatment, one of our experienced healthcare providers will slowly move the ultrasound wand in a circular motion over the area. To help keep your skin safe and to improve vibration transference, a hypoallergenic gel will be applied to the treatment area where the wand will press against your skin. Depending on the treatment area, your doctor may modify the frequency, intensity, and duration of the ultrasound treatment to meet your treatment goals.

Most treatments last between 5-10 minutes and can alternate between thermal and mechanical applications.

Side Effects of Therapeutic Ultrasound

Our office offers many different services that have virtually no side effects at all. Although unlikely, few patients may experience tenderness in the application that fades after a few minutes or hours.

Therapeutic ultrasound is a non-invasive treatment that may be effective in treating osteoarthritis. The therapy is very safe, has few adverse effects, and is relatively inexpensive. There is a wide range of osteoarthritis treatments available to fit your needs and goals. Schedule your appointment and talk to a specialist to find out if ultrasound therapy for osteoarthritis is right for you.

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