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What to Expect During a Therapeutic Ultrasound Treatment

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Welcome back to Part 2 of our series on therapeutic ultrasound. In Part 1, we discussed the benefits of therapeutic ultrasound and diagnoses it could be used for to reduce pain. If you haven't already, go check out Part 1 by clicking here to learn the foundational concepts of therapeutic ultrasound.


Today, we are going to discuss what you can expect during a therapeutic ultrasound treatment. Let’s dive in!


The Therapeutic Ultrasound Treatment Set Up

a person with knee pain

Let’s say you come into see a doctor of physical therapy for pain in your knee. One way we can use therapeutic ultrasound is by completing it directed around your origin of pain to promote pain relief. One thing we will always do before using ultrasound is place a water-based gel on the sound head. This water-based ultrasound gel is used as a “medium” to transmit sound waves from the sound head to the soft tissues that are in pain or inflamed.


As far as what duration to expect, your physical therapist is probably going to do around 8 to 10 minutes of ultrasound treatment. This is pretty standard. The therapist may place the settings on either continuous or pulsed, depending on their treatment goal and then adjust the intensity as appropriate.


What You Should (or Shouldn't) Feel During Therapeutic Ultrasound Session

a physical therapist doing a therapeutic ultrasound treatment

When the sound head is placed onto your skin, the therapist will then begin to move it at a nice and steady pace, not too slow or too fast. It’s important that a good pace is kept. Too fast will result in loss of ability to transmit the heat into deeper tissues, too slow could cause risk of burning those tissues.


In theory, during an ultrasound treatment, you should feel no type of sensation. All you should be aware of is the therapist moving the sound head over your tissues. You may feel the ultrasound gel, cold or hot, depending on if it was kept inside a warming container.


If you do start to feel increased heat or a burning sensation, it is important to tell your therapist so that they can adjust the intensity of the machine to a lower setting. Your therapist should be mindful of these things and communicate with you throughout the session. Therapeutic ultrasound should help with your pain management, not cause more pain.


You Be The Judge Of Your Therapeutic Ultrasound Treatment

a judge hitting his gavel

During this post, we covered several things as to what to expect during a therapeutic ultrasound treatment. You now know what to expect as far as therapeutic ultrasound machine set up, the duration of treatment, and what you should expect to feel during a session.


From part 1 of this series, you also should now know the benefits of therapeutic ultrasound treatment. It’s important for you, as the patient, to be educated on these expectations so that you are able to judge your session appropriately.


Feel like therapeutic ultrasound may be right for you? Call us today at 810-215-9222 to schedule an appointment. We also offer free 20-minute consultation calls for us to get to know each other and see if you may benefit from physical therapy.

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