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Stop, listen...what's that sound? It's therapeutic ultrasound!

Written by Jennifer Rouse, DVM CCRP Aug 24 • 1 minute read

(photo credit: rehabvets.org AARV) 

We've covered the initial evaluation, touch, temperature and electricity so far which means that we are now up to sound for our review of veterinary rehab modalities! 

Today's topic is Therapeutic Ultrasound. This modality uses sound waves to heat tissues (thermal effects) and cause vibrations (non thermal effects.) Remember from our earlier blog posts that heating tissue improves circulation, reduces pain, increases tissue elasticity and can even break down scar tissue. It is commonly used for muscle and tendon injuries, fractures and areas of restricted motion. Therapeutic ultrasound can be an important tool in rehabilitating tendon contractures. Deep heating of tendons prior to stretching and manual therapy can help to improve range of motion and reduce pain. 

Therapeutic Ultrasound can be performed in an awake patient and anyone who has had this treatment knows it feels good! The downside is that the sound waves require good contact with the skin, so hair is often shaved in the affected area. Ultrasound gel is usually used to compete contact with the skin in the treatment area but this wipes off easily after the session. Because this treatment is so effective at deep heating of tissues, it is contraindicated in patients with implants such as fracture repair plates and similar orthotic implants. It is also avoided in pregnant animals or over growth plates in young animals. Not sure if Therapeutic Ultrasound would help your pet's condition? Contact your veterinary rehabilitation therapist to see what they recommend!

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