Use of ultrasound is contraindicated over the eyes, testicles, over pacemakers, growth plates in children and over metallic implants. Ultrasound produces heat which can potentially produce burns, though Overall we therefore rate the risk of ultrasound.
Utrasound has been used for 60 years and is probably the most widely used electrophysical agent. However, extensive research has failed to show any real benefit from the use of ultrasound compared to fake ultrasound. It is not recommended for low back pain or other musculoskeletal conditions by the majority of evidence-based guidelines today, and is unlikely to be paid by many insurance carriers.
One recent review stated, “There was little evidence that active therapeutic ultrasound is more effective than placebo ultrasound for treating people with pain or a range of musculoskeletal injuries or for promoting soft tissue healing. “
Valma J Robertson, Kerry G Baker. A Review of Therapeutic Ultrasound: Effectiveness Studies. Physical Therapy, Vol 81 Issue 7, 2011.
SELF CARE: 4/5
Ultrasound is generally provided by therapists, but home units are available now for under $100.
In-office ultrasound treatments for a 10 minute session run around $25, though multiple sessions are often prescribed. In addition, the low cost of home units makes this treatment inexpensive.
USEFULNESS (overall rating): 1/5
Ultrasound is inexpensive and generally safe, but there is little convincing evidence it is effective. Our advice: skip the ultrasound!