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What is home ultrasound therapy and does it work?

Over centuries, sound has been known to cure the body and mind in form of music therapy. However, little was known about using its technological application until the late 19thcentury. Since then, ultrasound has been progressively used in diagnostic and therapeutic measures, and has brought smiles to millions of people.

It is a known fact that chronic pain affects hundreds of millions of people all over the world. Solutions have been sought after to tackle this problem. This has led to the discovery and practice of ultrasound therapy.

This article will focus on the exciting therapeutic part of the ultrasound machine, that has not gotten as much recognition or appraisal as the diagnostic counterpart. Ultrasound therapy is a breakthrough for everyone, and is extremely important because of the numerous benefits which it offers.

What is home ultrasound therapy?

Home ultrasound is a physical and medical procedure that makes use of very high frequency sound waves, above and beyond the upper limit of hearing in humans, to provide a therapeutic effect and relief of pain and other symptoms, through the use of a home ultrasound machine.

Going back to basic physics, we would remember that sound is a form of energy, and that energy can be converted from one form to the other. Now that this has been established, we also know that sound wave is a type of mechanical wave. This means that sound waves need a medium of propagation and transmission, such as air, metal, water, or wood. The vibrations that these sound waves make, are perceived as sound in the ears. This is at a frequency of about 20Hz – 20 KHz.

Ultrasound makes use of frequencies that are higher than 20 KHz. This very high frequency wave is especially good for structures such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments because of their position in the body.

How does home ultrasound therapy work?

The ultrasound machine has a probe or transducer which contains piezo electric crystals. When these crystals get excited by a small electrical current, it emits the ultrasound waves (piezoelectric effect). Now, when these waves hit the various structures in the body, they are reflected back to the crystal based on the density of the organ or tissue(echogenicity). Primarily, this has two effects:

Deep heating effects
Non thermal effects

Deep heating effects: When these waves hit the soft structures in the body, they produce heat. This heat produced, helps to improve the circulation of blood and oxygen to that part of the body. Blood contains several nutrients and nourishing abilities which help to promote growth and repair of the injured structures there. This also helps to reduce pain, decrease joint stiffness, inflammation, and any muscle spasms.

Non-thermal effects (Cavitation): Remember we said sound is a form of energy. Here, since energy is introduced into the body, microscopic bubbles around the tissue, expand and contract very fast, thereby producing cavitation. This helps to hasten the cellular processes that the body is undergoing, thereby facilitating healing.

Higher frequencies are better for body structures that are closer to the surface of the body because of their short wavelength. Lower frequency waves are used for the much deeper structures.

Also know that the gel facilitates the transmission of the sound waves to the body. It provides a medium for the sound waves to pass, and also reduces friction when the probe is moved from one part of the body to another.

What can home ultrasound therapy help to treat?

Home ultrasound therapy is for everyone!

Home ultrasound therapy is used to treat various physical injuries, and improve the normal functioning of a tissue. Among its benefits includes:

Short and long term pain relief: This arises from the mechanical consequence of the procedure itself. This also means that the spasms and tightness are greatly reduced. Some critics have even said that this is due to a placebo effect. However, one thing is certain, that the home ultrasound gives relief of pain.
Reduction in the time for a healing process in the body: As aforementioned, the effect of this machine is health promoting. It relaxes the tissues, and increases local blood flow which brings more nutrients to the affected part.
Alleviates chronic inflammation: Chronic inflammation is a condition that lasts for several months to years. You can imagine the smiles that the home ultrasound therapy machine has put on the faces of people.
It is portable: So, it can easily be used at any location without stress. Occupying so little a space, makes sure it is not a burden or in the way of anyone.
It reduces stress and may help with stress related problems: Stress is the body’s reaction to being put in a state outside its comfort zone. It can be emotional, psychological or social.
It saves cost in the long run: This is as simple as ABC. Owning a machine is always going to be easier and cheaper that using a rented or public one.
Phonophoresis: Also called Sonophoresis. This is used most times in the treatment of inflammation of the muscle and its tendons and ligaments. It optimizes the delivery of a drug that is applied topically. The medications often used here are hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, and salicylates.
Management of scar tissue (breakdown): This value arises from the acoustic influence of the machine. Fibroblasts make up scar tissue. When micro vibrations occur in the cells, they help to tone up the function of the fibroblasts, thereby leading to a reduced, well-defined, and neat scar. This has even led to its employment in surgical wounds, and healing by first intention.
Increase in the range of movement and flexibility of a joint: As a result of the rejuvenation, normal functions are repaired and improved.
Improved quality of life: This is the end product of the functionalities of the home ultrasound. Pain has been known to lower the quality of life for many people. With the home ultrasound therapy, an improved quality of life can be guaranteed.

Common illness that home ultrasound therapy is used to treat.

A photo of someone with joint pain
Ultrasound therapy machines can help with lots of different aches and pains.

The most common injuries that ultrasound therapy is used to treat are the orthopaedic related injuries.

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
Sprains and other ligament related injuries
Joint tightness or contractures

The benefits and advantages of home ultrasound therapy.

Relative low cost of equipment
It is readily available
Lack of ionising radiation, which means it is safe for use
Very portable and mobile
You can scan in any plane of the body
Perhaps the biggest benefit of home ultrasound therapy for most people will be that it provides natural and drug free pain relief. Being able to treat a variety of painful illnesses without the need for harmful and addictive medication is a huge benefit.

Are there any side effects to ultrasound therapy?

Saying there is any medical procedure with a 0% risk, would be telling a lie. However, there are extremely low risk routine procedures, and ultrasound therapy happens to be one of them. There has been no evidence to suggest adverse events with the use of ultrasound therapy. This means that it is safe for all age groups and special groups such as pregnant women too.

As a matter of fact, the home ultrasound machine uses pulsed ultrasonic waves, which have been tested and proven to be safe for the public in general, unlike the ultrasound machinefor medical diagnostics, which makes use of continuous waves which produce an increased risk to the person.

Among the rare side effects are tissue vaporization and mild heating. However, you should know that you should not use ultrasound therapy on an open wound, around the eyes orsexual organs, or around a pacemaker because of the sensitivity of these structures.

Is there anyone who should not try home ultrasound therapy?

No. Home ultrasound therapy is for everybody to benefit from. However, there are special groups of people in which this therapy should be used with discretion, or if severe, not be used at all. The following are contraindications of the home ultrasound machine:

Cancer patients: Since the therapy is known to increase cellular activity, there is a chance that ultrasound therapy may increase the chance of metastasis.
Children: Children have always been fragile. Children are vulnerable to many things because they are not fully developed. An example is the ultrasound. The ultrasound waves increase the risk of fractures in this age group.
Pregnant women: It is not certain whether there is any chance of an adverse effect in pregnancy with the use of the home ultrasound therapy machine. However, it is safe to avoid in pregnancy.
People with joint replacements: Since a special cement is used to hold the joint in place for these people, you should not disturb the arrangement with an ultrasound therapy machine’s vibrations.
People with Vascular problems: Decreased circulation severely limits the body’s ability to cope with an increased heat, of which is generated with the home ultrasound machine. People with bleeding disorders should also be closely monitored when using this machine.
A photo of a child using ultrasound
Ultrasound is perfect for most people to use.

Does home ultrasound therapy actually work?

Yes. This has been proven in different researches, clinical studies, and clinical trials. Home ultrasound therapy does not just produce positive effects, the effects produced are significant. The ultrasound machine actually provides pain relief to those that have had it as part of their therapy.

The exciting part here is that this machine also attacks the aetiological agent responsible for the pain, especially if it originates from the tissue. Drugs and injections only provide temporary relief, but home ultrasound provides relief on all fronts including physical and psychological fronts. Of course, it would be ridiculous to say that ultrasound therapy heals. Instead, it promotes and enhances healing.

Home ultrasound therapy works to reduce the symptoms of inflammation, which include pain, redness, tissue swelling, pallor, and even reverses a degeneration of function of that particular tissue, if caught early. That is just to whet your appetite. Additionally, the ultrasound waves trigger tissue repair through their vibration. This promotes the removal of toxins and the release of chemicals to promote regeneration of the cells.

How often can you use ultrasound therapy at home?

For a typical session, it should be around 3 – 5 minutes.Typically, it should not be performed more than once in day. This is because the healing tissue needs more time to recover and respond to the effect of the therapy from the home ultrasound.

Does ultrasound therapy hurt or is it painful in any way?

No. Home ultrasound therapy is safe, painless, and harmless. Although, if you keep the probe on one spot of your body, it is likely to cause some discomfort. That’s why it should be moving slowly and not static. The ultrasound therapy does not hurt.

How to use a home ultrasound therapy machine.

A photo of an ultrasound machine
Home Ultrasound therapy machines are now quite small units.

Being a home machine, it only makes sense that you know how to operate it for your own personal use. This knowledge would help you to save a lot of cash in the long run because with this, you do not need a physical therapist or any other trained professional to help you with it.

The bullets below, highlight the order of steps that you are to follow to treat yourself with the ultrasound therapy machine:

Read the manual: Every machine comes with a manual on how to use and care for the machine. Likewise with this machine, you would definitely want to know the necessary preparations you need to carry out before starting the therapy such as: connecting it to the power outlet, making sure the gel is ready to use, and leaving a damp soft towel that you would use to clean up after the session is over.
Applying the gel: Put the gel generously on the parts of the body that you want to focus this treatment on. This will ensure that the body is adequately primed to receive the revitalizing therapy of the home ultrasound machine.
The Therapeutic Session: After going through the preparatory phase, place the probe of the ultrasound on the affected areas on which you have already placed the gel. Start to move the ultrasound head slowly over the place. You can decide to do this in smooth circles, or in a linear fashion. The important thing is that it is convenient for you. This should cover a skin surface area of about 1 inch per second. When moving over bony prominences, ensure you take caution so that it does not cause you any discomfort.
Post Session Clean up: Assuming each session should last about 20-25 minutes, the damp towel that you prepared earlier should be used to clean the areas that have had therapy. Also remove any extra gel from the body. You might decide to use a cloth to just clean the machine, as part of the care for it. Put of the machine from the power source.

I am quite sure that the steps above are easy to follow.Following this routine faithfully is guaranteed to produce results.

How to clean and look after your home ultrasound therapy machine.

To get the best out this revolutionary machine,

Ensure you check the calibration at least, once a week to see to it that both the ultrasonic power and the built in timer are in synchrony and accurate.
Test and service the head of the transducer, at least once a month. This is to make sure that it provides a uniform amount of power
Clean the body of the machine from time to time, so that it maintains its sparkle.

Are home ultrasound therapy machines expensive to buy?

No. You may wonder how something this beneficial is not more expensive than about 150$ to around 400$ on the average. Although there are the high priced ones of over 5000$, and the low priced ones of just under 50$. It gives you great value for the money spent, and is widely considered as a great asset.

In conclusion…

Having discussed at great length, the home ultrasound therapy machine, its uses, benefits, indications, contraindications, safety, cost, and care, you can now make an informed decision on what is best for you.

In general, the ultrasound treatment is safe, and has been used as physical therapy for several years now. The ultrasound therapy machine has helped countless number of people to live a life free of the pain that held them back for so many years, while also promoting healing and wellness. It is revolutionizing the medical field, and the benefits cannot be quantified. Your Therapist should enlighten you further. Make a wise investment in yourself today.

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