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Ultrasound and Physiotherapy


Ultrasound and Physiotherapy

When is ultrasound a treatment tool of choice?

We use two different types of Ultrasound for two very different purposes.  

Therapeutic Ultrasound is the application of sound waves to achieve a desired effect in a body tissue.

Real-Time Ultrasound is an assessment and biofeedback tool.


Therapeutic ultra-sound

This is the use of sound waves, the frequency of which is above the normal human sound range (hence ultrasound), to create thermal and non-thermal effects in the body’s tissue to stimulate the normal response to injury and help tissue repair.


Real-Time Ultrasound

This is the same type of ultrasound imaging technology that is used during pregnancy to view a growing baby – except that in physiotherapy it can be used to view and measure how your muscles work.

When might I need ultrasound?

Therapeutic ultrasound is helpful after you have had a baby if you have:

Perineal tear, Episiotomy or Haemorrhoids

85% of women have some degree of perineal trauma with vaginal birth and 10-20% have an episiotomy. Anecdotally, women experience relief from the use of ultrasound as a part of their treatment program. More research is needed in this area. 


Therapeutic ultrasound can be used to assist symptoms and recovery from mastitis. Read more about it here.

Real-time ultrasound is used to teach people to use their ‘core muscles’ efficiently and correctly.  

Next Wave physiotherapists report treating clients with low back pain or hip pain who have adapted an inappropriate use of these muscles.  This can contribute to their problem, or cause other problems, such as incontinence or pelvic pain.

The literature shows that 40% of women who are asked to perform a pelvic floor muscle lift are actually pushing down on ultrasound.

Athletic performance

A large number of elite athletes have also been shown to engage their core inappropriately, leading to a number of continence issues in this population. Elite Netballer Sharelle MacMahon was one such individual who shared her story via the Continence Foundation.

“Particularly with training, I had some pain associated with my pelvic floor which presented as pelvic pain and back pain. So in that year after having Xavier, I had a lot of treatment to help relieve the symptoms but also to work on strengthening my pelvic floor in particular. I was wearing a pelvic band to give myself a bit more stability as well.”

Sharelle said her session with a pelvic floor specialist helped her to properly engage her pelvic floor while she was exercising. This resulted in her being able to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles and reduce her symptoms. Read her full story here

Continence issues

Many clients have presented for physiotherapy who we would not have been able to help without the use of the Real Time Ultrasound unit. For example; the pre-teen with urinary urgency that was affecting her at life at school; the woman whose hamstring pain was stemming from her pelvic floor or a man recovering his continence post-prostatectomy.

Post Natal Fitness

Countless other women have been given confidence and direction in their post-natal fitness recovery by visualising the correct muscle action during their pregnancy, or following their 6 week check.

Men and Women of all ages benefit from ultrasound

Men and Women of all ages and all fitness levels can benefit from an assessment with Real Time Ultrasound, particularly if they have concerns with:

  • Continence

  • Pelvic or Low back pain

  •  Pain with sexual intercourse

  • Prolapse

  • Prostatectomy

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Wanting to know more about the correct use of their core muscles

At Next Wave Therapy we implement, and strive to keep our clients informed of, the current best evidenced assessment and treatment options.

Written by Erica Brotherton

B.Sc (Physiotherapy) Post Graduate Certificate in Clinical Physiotherapy (Women’s Health)

Erica has a special interest in women’s health, continence, sporting injuries and musculo-skeletal complaints. She has additional qualifications in Clinical Pilates, exercise based rehabilitation, antenatal and postnatal exercise and dry needling.

Copyright © Next Wave Therapy

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