Therapeutic ultrasound

17. May 2022

therapeutic ultrasound and physiotherapy treatment

Therapeutic ultrasound is a non-invasive, painless, and drug-free treatment that uses high-frequency sound waves to stimulate the body’s natural healing process.

The use of physiotherapy and therapeutic ultrasound has increased in recent years, with a number of hospitals and clinics across the country now utilising the treatment for their patients. 

Therapeutic ultrasound can be used on a variety of injuries or conditions, making it an invaluable tool for physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation.

This article explores:

  • How physiotherapy and therapeutic ultrasound work 
  • What therapeutic ultrasound can treat and when it’s used
  • The benefits of therapeutic ultrasound and other electrotherapy treatment types
  • Where to get therapeutic ultrasound and physiotherapy treatment

What is therapeutic ultrasound and how does it work?

Unlike diagnostic ultrasound, you won’t be able to see inside your body or have your physiotherapist tell you you’re expecting!

Therapeutic ultrasound is a medical treatment that uses inaudible, high-frequency sound waves to create heat, which in turn creates a deep heating effect on the tissue.

Physiotherapy and therapeutic ultrasound are used for three major benefits

  1. Increased blood flow

  2. Decreased swelling and pain

  3. Massage of muscles, tendons, and tissue (or breakdown of scar tissue)

The heat generated by therapeutic ultrasound increases blood flow and circulation in the area being treated, which helps to relieve pain and stiffness and aids recovery from injury.

This can be achieved by two main effects of therapeutic ultrasound

  • Thermal- due to the absorption of the waves the area being treated heats up. The thermal effect also helps to increase elasticity 
  • Non-thermal- energy introduced to the affected area creates a process called cavitation and acoustic streaming.  The non-thermal effect speeds up the cellular healing process.

Source: Therapeutic ultrasound - Wikipedia, Therapeutic Ultrasound - Physiopedia (

Don’t worry, you won’t be hearing your favourite songs through your body! 

Both effects are present during physiotherapy treatment, making therapeutic ultrasound an excellent intervention for both acute and chronic conditions.

What does therapeutic ultrasound feel like?

Your physiotherapist will use an ultrasound machine with a probe (or transducer) to treat the affected area. Placing conductive gel between your skin and the probe to increase transmissivity.  

Sound waves from therapeutic ultrasound have difficulty moving through the air, so the gel is used as a bond to ensure there’s no air space between you and the probe, and the waves can penetrate effectively.

Ok, enough of the techy bit!

When you receive therapeutic ultrasound as a physiotherapy treatment you won’t directly feel the high-frequency waves and definitely won't hear them. 

Yet, you may feel a slightly warm or buzzing feeling as the treatment session progresses.

The probe is usually moved across your skin in circular motions and your physiotherapist will adjust settings throughout the treatment session.

If therapeutic ultrasound is new to you, you must make your physiotherapist aware if you feel uncomfortable or in pain. 

Do not stay silent and suffer it. 

Physiotherapy and therapeutic ultrasound aim to ease your condition, not exacerbate it.

What can therapeutic ultrasound be used for

Therapeutic ultrasound is a non-invasive physiotherapy treatment. 

Using sound waves to stimulate muscles, joints, and other soft tissues in the body, it can be used to treat pain and stiffness in joints, muscle spasms, and chronic pain.

The ultrasound waves cause vibrations in the tissue, which can be used to break up and remove scar tissue, blood clots, and other obstructions without physical contact with the tissue.

Therapeutic ultrasound can also be used to treat a variety of injuries and conditions such as:

Source: Therapeutic Ultrasound And How It Can Help | Core Elements

This therapy can be used for both acute and chronic conditions, including arthritis, sprains, and strains as well as for rehabilitation after surgery or injury.

Therapeutic ultrasound can be safely applied to other parts of the body including the lower back, hips, knees, ankles and more.

What are the benefits of therapeutic ultrasound as physiotherapy treatment?

There are many benefits of therapeutic ultrasound, hence why it’s commonly used as physiotherapy treatment. 

Mainly due to it being non-invasive, safe for most ages and conditions, quick (usually less than 30 minutes), and has minimal side effects.

Benefits of therapeutic ultrasound treatment also include:

  • Drug-free pain relief
  • Removal of lumps and fluids
  • Faster healing injuries 
  • Increase blood circulation 
  • Reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Deep penetration and relaxation of tissue

Source: Ultrasound Therapy - Benefits, Risks, And Side Effects (

People who’ve had physiotherapy and therapeutic ultrasound report experiencing a decrease in pain levels, a better range of motion in their joints, and an increase in strength.

Therapeutic ultrasound is mechanical energy rather than electrical but is listed as an electrotherapy modal.

Ultrasound, interferential, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) and TENS are electrotherapy treatment types we offer at CK Physio.

These electrotherapy treatment types can be used to treat:

  • Plantar Fasciitis of the foot
  • Achilles Tendinopathy 
  • Trochanteric pain syndrome
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Calcific Tendonitis of the shoulder 
  • Patellar Tendinopathy (Jumpers Knee) 
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Source: Shockwave Therapy in Hanwell and Ealing (

How can I get a therapeutic ultrasound?

CK Physio is here to offer you combined physiotherapy and therapeutic ultrasound, alongside other electrotherapy treatment types for conditions mentioned and more.

Although face-to-face treatment is necessary for therapeutic ultrasound, some physiotherapy treatment and exercise can be accessed from the comfort of your own home.

We conduct an initial virtual consultation as a safe and convenient way to meet with our physiotherapists.

During this consultation, you will be able to:

  • Meet your physiotherapist 
  • Discuss your condition/injury/illness 
  • Ask questions or query anything you don’t understand 
  • Explain your needs and requirements

Contact us today via our online booking form to schedule your consultation. 

You’ll be able to make an informed decision if physiotherapy and therapeutic ultrasound are best for you and get the right treatment you need.

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