Sunday, October 17, 2021

Ultrasound Or Ultra Bullshit?

When I was doing postgraduate studies in Adelaide back in 2003, I was fortunate to have David Butler as one of our tutors teaching Pain Sciences. He also introduced us to the term 'ultra bullshit' when it came to what he thought about the effectiveness of using ultrasound to treat patients. Especially those patients with chronic pain.

For those of you using therapeutic ultrasound, please do not be offended. I'm not suggesting that you cannot, should not or better not be using it, I'm just saying that we almost never use ultrasound in our clinics to treat patients.

However, I've been receiving therapeutic ultrasound almost daily since my T4 spine fracture last month. Why the sudden change? There have been studies showing that pulsed ultrasound can accelerate bone union by up to a week. I'm up for anything that helps my fracture heal better and faster!

Therapeutic ultrasound appears to effectively heat tissues (muscles, connective tissues etc) but research has not established the ideal temperatures for tissue benefit or tissue damage. Current research also suggests that therapeutic ultrasound will not help pain reduction, delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) or iontophoresis (deliver medicine under the skin), BUT it does appear to facilitate fracture healing. That previous sentence you read was 'a sight for my sore eyes'!

So my beloved wife has been helping daily with my ultrasound regime, although she does delegate the tasks occasionally to my boys as she says it's terribly boring holding on to the ultrasound device.

Looking forward to my next MRI to see how my fracture has healed.


Eberman L, Schumacher H, Niemann AJ et al (2013). Research Evidence For Therapeutic Ultrasound Effectiveness. Int J Ath Trg. 18(4): 20-22. DOI: 10.1123/ijatt.18.4.20. * Thanks to Byron who got me the article.

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