Ultrasound Therapy is a Powerful Modality in the Treatment of Arthritis
Arthritis is a catch all term referring to more than one hundred diseases and conditions where there is inflammation of the joint(s) in addition to pain, swelling, and/or stiffness. Currently, there isn't a cure for this condition, but modalities like ultrasound therapy can help reduce the uncomfortable symptoms associated with arthritis.
There are many possible causes of arthritis including:
- infection (e.g. gonococcal, tuberculous, pneumococcal, etc.)
- trauma to the joint
- degenerative changes (e.g. osteoarthritis, hypertrophic arthritis, senescent arthritis)
- metabolic disturbances
- autoimmune disorders (e.g. lupus erythematous)
One of the most common issues associated with any type of arthritis is the disruption of synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is the lubricant present in the body around the joints and cartilage. Arthritis causes the depletion of synovial fluid. This can cause the bones to grind against each other because they no longer have protection around the joints which leads to pain and loss of function.
The Most Common Types of Arthritis
As we discussed, there are over 100 types of arthritis, but two of the most common types of arthritis are: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and is the most common form of Arthritis affecting primarily older populations.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes patients to develop chronic pain, stiffness and loss of function and can affect many joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur in patients of any age with symptoms intensifying with time.
The most common type of treatment for arthritis is the prescribed use of oral pain medication. However, physical therapy and ultrasound therapy specifically offer arthritis patients an alternative pain management option in addition to offering them additional therapeutic benefits, like improving functional movement.
How Ultrasound Therapy Improves Arthritis Symptoms
Pain Management: According to research (Efficacy of Ultrasound Therapy for the Management of Knee Osteoarthritis) ultrasound therapy is an effective, non-invasive alternative to treating pain associated with arthritis. Ultrasound therapy creates deep heat within the soft tissues of the body, leading to decreased pain in the local area of discomfort. Additionally, ultrasound therapy can be used in combination with other physical therapy modalities, like electrical stimulation, in order to increase the efficiency of pain management.
Another benefit of using ultrasound therapy is the versatility offered with the modality. With the option of using different soundhead applicators, practitioners can treat any area of the body, from the low back to elbows. Not only that, but practitioners can choose from continuous or pulsed ultrasound treatment to treat deep tissues or superficial areas as well as target trigger point pain.
Cartilage Repair: One of the biggest issues with a chronic condition like arthritis is the long-term degeneration of cartilage. Ultrasound therapy can be useful in repair cartilage damage caused by arthritis. A study (Low Intensity Ultrasound as a Supporter of Cartilage Regeneration...) found that ultrasound therapy allows oxygen to be delivered to the injured tissue of the joints facilitating tissue repair.
Reduce Swelling: Swelling is another common symptom of arthritis. The mechanical energy of ultrasound therapy has an anti-inflammatory effect which can help reduce swelling and edema caused by arthritis.
Increase Range of Motion: A common symptom of arthritis is the reduction of range of motion. Ultrasound therapy has been found to be effective in increasing range of motion of the joints of arthritis sufferers when used in conjunction with joint mobilizations. (Ultrasound and Joint Mobilizations for Achieving Normal Wrist Range of Motion After Injury or Surgery)
Increase Patient Participation: With its ability to reduce pain & swelling in addition to increasing range of motion, ultrasound therapy is able to increase a patient’s ability to participate fully in a physical therapy regimen which may include therapeutic exercise and activities.
Since there isn’t a cure for arthritis, the role of physical therapy is to decrease pain and increase a patient’s ability to function fully in their daily lives, while also managing the symptoms of their disease. Pain management modalities like ultrasound therapy machines are an essential part of any therapeutic regimen planned for arthritis patients. Non-invasive and effective, ultrasound therapy is a powerful tool to use in both the short and long-term maintenance of arthritis and its associated symptoms.
Contact us today!
We can help rehabilitation practitioners and patients find the perfect ultrasound therapy device and accessories for your practice. Contact us today and we’ll answer any questions you may have about the benefits of using each device and what accessories you’ll need! Call us today at 1-801-770-3328 for more information.