Is It True Ultrasound Can Treat Arthritis?

When people think of ultrasounds at a place like EVDI Medical Imaging, they tend to connect them to their diagnostic function. While ultrasound is primarily used to safely view of the inside of the body and help diagnose internal problems, it can also be used to treat certain diseases and conditions; one of which is arthritis. Here's more information about how ultrasound may alleviate your symptoms.

How Sound Waves May Reduce Pain and Stiffness

There are several different types of arthritis, but they generally all lead to the same outcome: joint pain, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness in the affected areas. Research into the use of ultrasound found it could help people in a couple of ways.

First, while ultrasound works by emitting sound vibrations, those vibrations generate heat. The vibrations appear to affect body tissues at a deeper level than just regular heat therapy. Heat improves circulation by stimulating blood flow. This helps decrease inflammation, reduce swelling by helping flush fluids away from the affected area, and ease stiffness. In a 2002 review of two studies, researchers concluded that regular use of ultrasound can improve hand grip, wrist flexion, and reduce swelling and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Second, it appears ultrasound therapy may help heal bones and cartilage. This can be beneficial for people who develop arthritis due to deterioration of these tissues, as is the case with osteoarthritis. In one study of literature detailing the clinical applications of ultrasounds, researchers found a positive correlation between the use of ultrasound and bone healing. A different review found ultrasound therapy may heal cartilage, which can slow the deterioration of this necessary tissue (cartilage cushions bones, preventing them from rubbing together).

Be aware, though, that more studies are being conducted on the use of ultrasound as a treatment for arthritis, and some have produced mixed results. While ultrasound is an ideal treatment because it can alleviate symptoms without any troubling side effects, it's best to consult with your healthcare provider before embarking on this type of treatment to ensure it is appropriate and safe for you to use.

Other Treatment Options for Arthritis

In some cases, the best results come from combining the use of ultrasound with other treatment methods to maximize the relief you get from arthritis symptoms. For example, doing a combination of heat/cold therapy using ultrasound and cold packs may keep swelling, pain, and other symptoms at bay for longer periods of time. Using an at-home ultrasound machine to apply heat for 15 to 20 minutes and then applying a cold press the area for 15 to 20 minutes is one common therapy that may prove beneficial to you.

Participating in physical therapy and/or regular exercise can help keep the joints lubricated and limber. Additionally, gentle exercise—such as walking and swimming—may help you lose excess weight, which will reduce the strain on joints and may result in less pain. Again, it's essential you talk to your healthcare provider before engaging in an exercise program to ensure it's safe for you.

Lastly, there are medications that may provide additional relief from arthritis symptoms and inhibit progression of the disease. For instance, ibuprofen and other over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce swelling and discomfort in arthritic joints. Corticosteroids may be prescribed to treat severe cases of osteoarthritis.

It's important to note, though, many medications have unpleasant side effects. Ibuprofen can damage the lining of the stomach if you take too much or use it for too long, for example. Be certain to do your research or discuss these possible side effects with a medical professional.

For more information on how ultrasound may help you arthritis or other treatment options, contact a healthcare provider.