I’ve collected numerous injuries in over thirty years of martial arts and a lifetime of recreational sports. In the past couple years I’ve gotten back into tennis after a thirty year layoff and that brings numerous challenges to my joints. When I got tennis elbow it was unresponsive until I started using a portable ultrasound device. There was an immediate reduction in pain and a slow but steady recovery, even though I didn’t reduce my playing time.

Ultrasound therapy has been used by physical therapists for decades, but only recently have portable devices become available and affordable to people like me. I bought mine online from Sonic Relief for about $200 a couple years ago. Now I see other models on Amazon for less than half that.

What is ultrasound therapy? High energy sound waves above the threshold of human hearing. When directed at soft tissue injuries like joint and muscle sprains, tendonitis, and bursitis it has been shown to relieve pain and inflammation, speed healing, and increase range of motion. When the ultrasound waves vibrate tissues deep in the body heat is produced, which increases circulation. Blood circulation is relatively slow in bone and connective tissue, which usually means slower recovery.

You apply a lubricating gel to the skin and gently move the head of the device in circles on the surface of the skin for 5-10 minutes. Most devices have a timer that shuts off after 10 to prevent over exposure. It is safe to use up to three times a day. Most units come with a gel, but I have been substituting Blue Emu and Traumeel therapeutic creams. The ultrasound seems to bring the healing elements of both these fine products deeper into the troubled area.

Areas to avoid: NEVER use around the eyes, ears, ovaries, testicles, or spinal cord, or where there is an active infection.

When I have an inflammation like tendonitis or a sprain I like to alternate ice packs (to reduce swelling) for 20 minutes with ultrasound treatments (to increase circulation). Ultrasound can relieve the pain of osteoarthritis and may have long-range healing benefits.