Is Therapeutic Ultrasound Still Being Used?

I took a poll on my IG story last week and the results surprised me.

The majority voted no but, I’m still surprised that 36% of people said that they do. 

I started a new job recently in another outpatient orthopedic clinic and they use ultrasound here… a lot.

I’ve used more ultrasound in the past three weeks than I have in the last 3.5 years of practice!

I tried to do the “let’s try a session without it and see how you do” explaining how the treatment effects are short term and the benefits of an active warm-up instead. But the patients requested ultrasound to be brought back in more than 75% of the time in the following session.

So I’ve collected information and will be doing a clinic in-service on ultrasound in a couple of weeks for the clinic staff. If we’re going to be using it, let’s be sure we’re using it appropriately. 

Keeping in mind, best absorption of ultrasound energy is in the tendon, ligament, fascia, joint capsule, and scar tissue.

Table 1. Indications, contraindications, and precautions for therapeutic ultrasound.

Table 2. Parameters for Use of Ultrasound

Table 3. Comparing the difference between thermal vs non-thermal effects.

Most of these notes were gathered from my PT school notes (graduated 2016).

There’s a concept called “triangulation” we learned in PT school which connects evidence-based practice, provider experience, and patient choice. There technically is evidence that supports the efficacy of ultrasound. And if the patient strongly wants the treatment intervention, they’re likely going to feel better as a result of receiving the treatment, to an extent.

If the patient lacks progress, I’ll pull the intervention and be able to use this as a reason to discontinue the service in replace of another one. But for now, I’m doing it for some patients and it’s a very different practice than where I came from.

Check out this blog post about more differences I’ve found between my last job to the one I’m at now. 

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