Many people associate ultrasound with pregnancy, ObGyn visits and other diagnostics. Since the 1940s, however, ultrasound has been used to induce localized healing. More recently, great healing impacts have begun to be studied.
Traditional Pain Management and Healing
Ultrasound machines produce sound waves that pass through skin and other tissues which produce deep localized healing with little or no sensation felt by the person receiving treatment. In addition, ultrasound increases blood flow, tissue relaxation and scar tissue breakdown – all of which contribute to healing, reduced swelling and pain reduction, according to Physical Therapy Web.
Even more amazing for the needle-phobic among us, ultrasound can be used to deliver medications through the skin. This technique, called phonophoresis, is frequently used to administer cortisone, which reduces inflammation and pain in injuries.
A typical ultrasound pain management treatment takes just three to five minutes, but may be longer if the goal is to reduce scar tissue. The ultrasound machine wand is coated with a gel to reduce friction and kept in constant motion over the area being treated.
More recently, British doctors have begun using ultrasound to treat cancer. The Guardian reports that doctors at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) have used ultrasound to kill harmful tissues deep within the bodies of patients diagnosed with cancerous bone legions.
This type of ultrasound, known as high intensity focused ultrasound (HiFu), has been seen to successfully treat breast lumps and bone lesions. Researchers speculate that it could also be used to deliver capsules of cancer treatment drugs directly inside a tumor, reducing the negative side-effects of current treatment methods.
Researchers are currently focusing on the use of ultrasound to treat bone lesions related to cancer, but once it’s been perfected researchers believe the technology could have many uses. For example, ultrasound could be used to heat up cancer cells and kill them.
In addition, doctors believe they could inject fatty capsules containing anti-cancer drugs into a patient’s blood stream. When the capsules reach the tumor, ultrasound would be used to heat it up and burst the capsule, delivering the medication exactly where it’s needed.
Researchers have just barely begun to discover all the uses for ultrasound and sound waves. The ways in which they can be used to heal the body are currently limitless.