Ultrasound is a technique that uses a sound wave in order to create an image (diagnostic ultrasound) or heat and motion (therapeutic ultrasound), depending on the frequency used. 


Diagnostic Ultrasound

This is common medical imaging technique used to visualize muscles, tendons, and many internal organs, to capture their size, structure and any pathological lesions with real time images. The technology is relatively inexpensive and portable, especially when compared with other techniques, such as MRI or CT.  There is no radiation involved in diagnostic ultrasound and the procedure is painless. 

Dr. Payson Flattery  commonly uses diagnostic ultrasound during injection therapies like prolotherpy, platelet-rich plasma or stem cell therapy, in order to specifically isolate the area that needs to be treated.  He is able to visualize damaged and fibrosed tissue, narrowing of joint spaces and torn muscle, ligaments or tendons. 


Therapeutic Ultrasound

Ultrasound can also be used as a heat agent, and mechanically, as a vibration agent.  Physical therapist, Mitch Rost, may choose one or both ultrasound approaches, depending on your chronic pain condition.

Thermal ultrasound is like a very deep heat: It penetrates the deep tissues, warming them up to encourage the healing of soft tissues.  This technique might be used to treat a strained muscle that has not healed as expected.

Mechanical ultrasound causes tiny vibrations in the soft tissue, which can decrease swelling and inflammation in order to reduce some types of pain. Mechanical ultrasound, like thermal ultrasound, also promotes soft tissue healing. A physical therapist might use mechanical ultrasound to break up deep scar tissues in the muscles or ligaments.