Don’t PTs always do ultrasound?

Frequently we have patients asking us if they can have an ultrasound treatment, or why ultrasound has not been a part of their treatment plan. Well our answer is simple. It doesn’t work. We want to be providing the most effective, evidence-based treatment that will provide you with long-term results, and we have learned that ultrasound does not fit those criteria. Over the last 10+ years, more and more studies are coming out on the efficacy of ultrasound for low back pain and other soft tissue injuries, and the results have shown it is not the best way to treat them. According to Ebadi et al1, “No high-quality evidence was found to support the use of ultrasound for improving pain or quality of life in patients with non-specific chronic low back pain. There is some evidence that therapeutic ultrasound has a small effect on improving low-back function in the short term, but this benefit is unlikely to be clinically important1.” Another study by Naomi et al2, says that extensive use of ultrasound for soft tissue injuries is not supported by evidence that is ranked high in the hierarchy of evidence (randomized controlled trials). Ultrasound still has some uses in PT, i.e. assisting with wound care, and is still used in those instances. While some clinics still like to use ultrasound for that chance it might give you some short-term relief, we at CC’s would rather get the best bang for our buck (and yours) and use other treatments we know have lasting effects.

1 Ebadi S, Henschke N, Nakhostin Ansari N, Fallah E, van Tulder MW. Therapeutic ultrasound for chronic low-back pain.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD009169. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009169.pub2.
2 Naomi E. Chinn1, Angela E. Clough1, Peter J. Clough2. Does therapeutic ultrasound have a clinical
evidence base for treating soft tissue injuries? International Musculoskeletal Medicine 2010 VOL. 32 NO. 4. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/1753615410Y.0000000003

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