Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Physiotherapy: therapeutic ultrasound

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd, Helen Fentem-Jones

Introduction

  • Therapeutic ultrasound is a physiotherapy treatment that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce both thermal and non-thermal effects in mainly soft tissue structures to improve healing and remodeling of injuries. 
  • It is particularly useful in improving wound healing, remodeling scar tissue, reducing edema and soft tissue filling in limbs, improving flexibility of movement after injury and fibrosis, and treating muscle injuries. 

Uses

  • As part of a physiotherapy regimen Physiotherapy - can shorten rehabilitation time, decrease swelling/edema and pain, and facilitate increase in motion:  
    • Remodeling of scar tissue and facial planes Wound: secondary intention healing
    • Promotion of wound healing Wound: healing - stages by increasing protein synthesis in fibroblasts (use at least two weeks post-injury) Wound: healing - factors
    • Osteoarthritis Arthritis: osteoarthritis - promotes healing and flexibility of the joint capsule. There may also be some affect on the synovial membrane. 
    • Tendon injuries. Studies have shown improved histological appearances of damaged tendons and less peritendinous adhesions. 
    • Muscle damage and spasm/pain. 
    • Resolution of tissue edema and hematomas once hemorrhage has stopped. 
    • Nerve injuries by encouraging remyelination and regeneration of damaged axons. 
  • Phonophoresis: to facilitate dispersal of topical or injected medications throughout soft tissues:  

Advantages

  • Non-invasive technique. 
  • Wide range of applications. 
  • Easy to apply once instructed by trained person such as physiotherapist. Owners may be able to treat the animal under instruction saving costs and increasing frequency of treatment.

Disadvantages

  • Tissues can be damaged if ultrasound is used inappropriately - it should only be used in those cases where there has been a full veterinary evaluation. 
  • Tissue damage can be done before there is a pain response in the patient. 
  • Should not be used in proximity to open wounds or metal implants, or in cases of cellulitis Skin: cellulitis, infection, unstable fractures or surgical incisions. 

Requirements

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Preparation

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Procedure

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Aftercare

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Outcomes

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Prognosis

  • Depends on the original problem. 

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource
  • Saini N S et al (2002) A preliminary study on the effect of ultrasound therapy on the healing of surgically severed achilles tendons in five dogs. J Vet Med Physiol Pathol Clin Med 49 (6), 321-328 PubMed
  • Lang D C (1980) Ultrasonic treatment of musculoskeletal conditions in horse, dog and cat. Vet Rec 106 (21), 427-431 PubMed

Other sources of information

  • Ball M A (2003) Therapeutic use of Ultrasound, Lasers and Electromagnetics. In: Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse. Eds: Ross R W & Dyson S J. Saunders, Missouri. pp 811-812. 
  • Porter M (1999) Therapeutic Ultrasound. In: Equine Medicine and Surgery. Eds: Colahan P T, Mayhew I G, Merritt A M & Moore J N. Mosby, Missouri. pp 1444-1446. 


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