Real Time Ultrasound
Why do Physiotherapists perform Ultrasound?
Physiotherapists use real-time ultrasound to examine how the small stabilising muscles of the spine are functioning (ie they can assess the size, function, timing and contraction endurance of these muscles). Important trunk muscles and the pelvic floor are assessed in a range of positions and during special activities. Scientific research has shown that during an episode of low back pain these muscles contract poorly, in the wrong sequence or turn and and then waste away, long after the pain has settled. Real time ultrasound can also be used to measure pelvic floor activity in children as well as voiding residuals.
Why is it important?
The deep abdominal muscle transversus abdominus, surrounds the trunk and acts like a natural back brace. The pelvic floor works to regulate bladder and bowel control, support the pelvic organs and is important in sexual function. These muscles work in unison with the diaphragm and other spinal stabilsing muscles to provide core stability.
After an episode of back pain scientific research has shown that these muscles do not return with the same strength or co-ordination if no specific rehabilitation is performed. Patients are then more susceptible to recurrent episodes of low back pain and possible spinal degeneration over time.
What is involved?
A specially trained physiotherapist will measure the function, the hold time and overall contraction sequences between your muscles. This is performed in different positions and can be customised for each individual.
Real time ultrasound is safe, effective non invasive and pain free. A small ultrasound head and water soluble gel are placed on various muscles and the images are viewed on a screen. Images can be recorded and measured for future comparison.
Try not to empty your bladder in the hour before your ultrasound, This will ensure that your bladder, and therefore your pelvic floor are easily visible. It is very important that you inform your physio if you experience any postural pain during testing as this can inhibit your muscle activity.
What happens next?
Once your specific problem areas are identified, coupled with other objective and functional measurements, your treating physio will design the most appropriate exercise program for you. This may include home exercises, hands on treatment, functional restoration, work hardening or a pilates program. Real-time ultrasound may also be used for biofeedback to enable faster muscle re-education and strengthening.
Who needs Real Time Ultrasound assessment?
Real time ultrasound is recommended for a wide range of people including:
Individuals with low back pain (acute, chronic or recurrent)
Individuals with sacrioliac joint pain or pelvic instability
Pre and Post spinal surgery
Post partum or pre-natal mothers with low back, pelvic or rib pain.
Individuals who require high levels of core stability