Ultrasonic Therapy

Ultrasonic therapy or ultrasonic diathermy products used in physical therapy equipment produce high-frequency sound waves that travel deep into tissue and create gentle therapeutic heat. Ultrasonic diathermy is intended to generate deep heat within body tissues for the treatment of selected medical conditions such as pain, muscle spasms and joint contractures, but not for the treatment of malignancies.

The sound waves are transmitted through a round-headed wand that the therapist applies to the skin with gentle, circular movements. A hypo-allergenic gel aids in the transmission of the ultrasonic energy and prevents overheating at the surface of the applicator.


Ultrasonic therapy does not hurt (there may be a bit of a tingling sensation and/or a sensation of warmth) if the therapist keeps the wand moving continuously. If, however, the wand is held in place for more than a few seconds, it can become uncomfortable at higher energies.

Information for Patients

While ultrasonic therapy can be used to treat the conditions described above, it is important to know that there are situations and areas of the body where it cannot safely be used. You should notify the practitioner administering the ultrasound if any of the following applies to you:

  • You have a cardiac pacemaker
  • You have a malignancy in the area to be treated
  • You have a healing fracture in the area to be treated
  • You have an implanted medical device other than a pacemaker such as implanted deep brain stimulation device

You should also be aware that commercial ultrasonic diathermy devices may exist that have not been formally evaluated by FDA. Typically, these devices will claim to treat a range of diseases, disorders, and have other uses that are not covered in the description above (for example, to reduce wrinkles on the face).

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