Physiocare Rimbey

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Therapeutic ultrasound is a modality commonly used in physical therapy to treat various musculoskeletal conditions. It involves the use of high-frequency sound waves, typically between 0.8 to 3.0 MHz, to penetrate deep into the tissue. The energy from these sound waves causes vibration and heating within the tissues, which can have several therapeutic effects.

How Therapeutic Ultrasound works?

  1. Sound wave generation: A therapeutic ultrasound machine generates high-frequency sound waves using a piezoelectric crystal within the ultrasound transducer. When an electric current passes through the crystal, it vibrates rapidly, producing sound waves.

  2. Transmission through tissue: The sound waves generated by the ultrasound machine are applied to the skin through a handheld transducer head. Before application, a coupling gel is typically applied to the skin to help transmit the sound waves and reduce friction.

  3. Absorption and reflection: Once the sound waves penetrate the skin, they encounter different types of tissues, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. These tissues have different densities and compositions, which affect how the sound waves are absorbed and reflected.

  4. Biological effects: As the sound waves travel through the tissues, they cause mechanical vibrations at a cellular level. These vibrations can lead to several biological effects:

    • Thermal effects: The rapid vibration of molecules within the tissues generates heat. This increase in tissue temperature can promote relaxation of muscles, improve blood flow, and enhance tissue healing.

    • Micro-massage: The mechanical vibrations produced by the sound waves create micro-streaming within the tissues, which can help facilitate the movement of fluids and cellular substances. This micro-massage effect can aid in reducing inflammation and promoting tissue repair.

    • Increased cell membrane permeability: The oscillation of cells induced by ultrasound can temporarily increase the permeability of cell membranes. This can enhance the uptake of nutrients and the removal of metabolic waste products, contributing to tissue healing.

    • Stimulation of biological processes: Ultrasound has been shown to stimulate various cellular processes, including collagen synthesis, fibroblast proliferation, and angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). These processes are essential for tissue repair and regeneration.

Application techniques:

During a therapeutic ultrasound session, the ultrasound transducer is moved continuously or in a controlled pattern over the targeted area. The therapist may adjust the frequency, intensity, and duration of the ultrasound based on the patient’s condition and treatment goals.

Therapeutic effects of Ultrasound:

  1. Pain relief: Ultrasound can help alleviate pain by stimulating the production of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body.

  2. Increased blood flow: The vibration produced by ultrasound can dilate blood vessels, leading to increased blood flow to the treated area. This can promote healing by delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and removing metabolic waste products.

  3. Reduction of inflammation: Ultrasound has been shown to reduce inflammation by increasing the permeability of cell membranes, allowing inflammatory substances to be removed more efficiently.

  4. Promotion of tissue healing: Ultrasound can stimulate the production of collagen, a protein that is essential for tissue repair and regeneration. This can help speed up the healing process for injuries such as muscle strains, ligament sprains, and tendonitis.

Overall, therapeutic ultrasound harnesses the mechanical and thermal effects of high-frequency sound waves to promote tissue healing, reduce pain, and improve functional outcomes in patients with musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.


  • Image from
  • This article was written with the help of and was vetted for accuracy by a Registered Physiotherapist before publishing. This article is not intended to replace any medical advice, if you have any soft tissue injuries you are advised to consult the Physiotherapist to arrive at a diagnosis and a proper treatment plan. Thank you.

Contact us today to experience the Physiocare Rimbey difference and embark on a path to enhanced well-being.