I have written many articles on this blog about the wonders of cold laser, or low level laser, therapy. Recently, an equine client of mine pulled a muscle on an upper level cross country outing, and therapeutic ultrasound was added to the arsenal of healing technology used on him. His treatment also included cold laser therapy, body balancing, rest, ice, and arnica. He has made a complete recovery (in about 10 days) and is fit and ready to compete again.
Therapeutic ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves that provides heat that vibrates soft tissues deep within the traumatized area. The energy from these sound waves can penetrate as far as five centimeters, though the intensity of the waves (and thus effectiveness) decreases the further it penetrates. One chief benefit is that these waves cause microscopic air bubbles that seem to stimulate the parts of the cell membranes important in healing inflammation, thus helping alleviate both sore muscles and joint pain.
Ultrasound was first used in the 1940’s and is the longest standing form of electrotherapy to still be in regular use. It is still used extensively in physical therapy (physiotherapy, sports therapy, chiropractic and osteopathic) clinics to treat patients with soft tissue injuries.
It is most commonly used to treat superficial localised conditions such as muscle strains, tendon injuries,and bursitis. The treatment is applied via a treatment head using a gel to aid smooth movement and adherence to the skin. Ultrasound tends to be most effective on tissues with a higher collagen density (such as ligaments and tendons), than muscles and cartilage.
Cold laser therapy was first developed in 1967, but has only recently been used extensively in injury and pain management clinics. It is used to treat a range of conditions, for example tendon injuries, neuropathic pain ,and joint pain such as osteoarthritis.
Laser and LED beams stimulate the cells that repair tissues, reduce inflammation and pain. These effects are photochemical, not thermal.