Tendonitis is the inflammation of the muscle tendon, occurring because of age, overuse or repetitive use of the joint tendon. The wrist, elbow heel, and shoulder are common areas for tendonitis, according to U.S. National Library of Medicine. It is diagnosed during a physical exam as the health care provider looks for signs of pain and tenderness during resistance testing. Treating tendonitis involves reducing pain and inflammation by immobilization of the tendon, with heat and cold therapy, aspirin or ibuprofen, steroid injections, surgery or with physical therapy that includes ultrasound treatment.
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Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound to heat an area, increasing blood supply. It promotes healing and reduces inflammation by creating a histamine response in the body, reducing tendonitis. According to a 2006 article in the "Journal of Undergraduate Kinesiology Research," recovery time and treatment outcome is dependent on the individual tissue response in the patient when ultrasound is used in treating tendonitis. Ultrasound therapy uses a small metal head that emits an ultrasonic beam and is moved over the affected area for three to five minutes.
A physical therapist, occupational therapist or chiropractor administers ultrasound therapy to soften scar tissue by circulating the ultrasound device on treatment area. The ultrasound may be used with a topical pain reliever and treated with cold packs after the treatment. Mild stretching exercises are done with the help of the therapist after the ultrasound treatment is finished.
Ultrasound treatment is a safe, non-invasive treatment for tendonitis. Sportsinjuryclinic.net states that ultrasound stimulates the production of collagen, the main protein that makes up soft tissues like tendons and ligaments, accelerating healing time. Ultrasound therapy is normally performed by a physical therapist in conjunction with other therapies, so there is no need to see a separate therapist. Treatments are short, lasting only several minutes for each affected area. The 2006 article in the "Journal of Undergraduate Kinesiology Research" states that their study revealed an increase in joint strength, decrease in pain level and increased range of motion with ultrasound therapy.
According to a 2004 article in "Rehab Management," ultrasound therapy is underutilized because therapists do not understand the benefits of using ultrasound, and therefore lack motivation to use it. The therapy is very specialized and the equipment needs to be calibrated and used properly to achieve results and if no results are seen, the therapist may become reluctant to use it in the future.
If ultrasound is not done correctly, it can overheat tissue, causing hot spots. According to Sportsinjuryclinic.net, ultrasound affects the tissue repair process and it is possible that it can abnormally affect diseased tissue and should not be used on people with a history of cancer, who have acute infections or those at risk for hemorrhage. It should also not be used on people who have a history of venous thrombosis or on pregnant women.