Is veterinary therapeutic ultrasound a way to look inside the body?

Pet ultrasound, by definition, is a oscillating sound wave that is above the range the we can hear. For diagnosis (i.e. looking inside the body) – the machine is measuring what comes back to it after that sound wave bounces off things inside the body and makes a picture based on the distance of the bounce. For therapy, those waves are used to warm the tissues for a healing effect.

Does a heating pad going to do the same thing as veterinary therapeutic ultrasound?

Only on the surface. The beauty of ultrasound therapy is that we can target a specific tissue at a specific depth. By coning that energy into a small space, we can get maximal therapeutic effect. A heating pad, while it feels good, can only heat the surface and cools very quickly.

How does veterinary therapeutic ultrasound help an injury?

  • Increased blood flow. Think about how your skin turns pink when you’ve been in a warm shower. That’s because blood flow has increased at the skin. Now think about concentrating that heat to an injury. The increased blood flow will bring all the blood components in to heal the wound faster.
  • Reduction of swelling. Think about a sprained ankle. The more swelling that is here, the less motion you have, and the more likely you are to have permanent decreased range of motion. Ultrasound helps remove that swelling to increase motion early, tendons don’t freeze up to create scar tissue.
  • Pain relief. The movement of the ultrasound, coupled with the heat, serves as massage for the affected area. This reduces pain, helps remove toxins, and helps medication reach where they need to go.
  • Increasing motion in old injuries. We all know that “stuck” things work better when warm. This is why we run a stuck jar under warm water to open it. This is why we don’t keep Vaseline in the refrigerator. The same concept applies to tendons and ligaments that have been “frozen” from injury. Heating and increasing blood flow allows it to soften, bring in more blood flow and break up scar tissue, resulting in better movement.

Does veterinary therapeutic ultrasound therapy hurt?

No. Therapeutic ultrasound should feel like the benefits described above….warm massage. Often we will stretch the limb or affected area while doing ultrasound, but again it should not be to the point of pain, only to the point of stretch.

What specific conditions warrant veterinary therapeutic ultrasound?

  • Tendon injuries
  • Ligament injuries
  • Scar tissue problems
  • Preventing post operative scar formation
  • Any acute swelling
  • Muscle injuries
  • Slow healing wounds

Please visit our pages regarding Pet Rehabilitation and Dog Rehabilitation Physiotherapy for more information!

About Healing Arts Animal Care

Healing Arts Animal Care in Beaverton, Oregon provides veterinary acupuncture, pet rehabilitation therapy, physical therapy and athletic conditioning and Animal Massage Therapy for the dogs and cats of the Portland, Oregon Metro Area including Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, and Tualatin. We strive to create a team among you, your pet, your veterinarian and ourselves to create a whole package of care for your pet including wheelchairs for dogs. Pets come through our door knowing that we’re going to have fun here and this isn’t “another trip to the vet.” Through manual therapies, acupuncture, laser, ultrasound, underwater treadmill and creating a tailored individual home exercises, we strive to bring your injured pet back to speed, keep your elderly pet as an active member of the family, return your obese pet back to a functional friend and keep your athletic pet at the peak of his performance.