Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I went to a physical therapist for a shoulder problem. Ultrasound was used to heat the tissue before stretching and exercise. I was told it's a form of heat, but I didn't feel any heat. Can you explain this?


Ultrasound (US) is a form of energy that can be applied to the body through the skin. High frequency sound waves absorbed by tissues causes a vibration that's turned into heat energy. US raises the tissue temperature to around 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since the effect is deep in the tissues, no sense of heat is felt over the skin. You may feel some burning pain at the bone. This signifies the US is too high or being applied improperly.

Pain relief occurs with US as increased blood flow to the area sweeps away toxins and damaged cells. It also has a beneficial effect on irritated nerves.

Yesim Kurtais Gürsel, et al. Adding Ultrasound in the Management of Soft Tissue Disorders of the Shoulder: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. In Physical Therapy April 2004. Vol. 84. No. 4. Pp. 336-343.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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