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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Use of Therapeutic Home Ultrasound to Treat Arthritis

As we age, our once lubricated joints can become less efficient at absorbing shocks and protecting our bones. This condition, known as arthritis, can be both mentally and physically crippling and affects approximately 50% of adults 65 years and older. Arthritis can significantly reduce a person's ability to enjoy life because it effects major joints of the body, such as knees, elbows and hands, which are vital for daily functioning.

Types of Arthritis: Arthritis is an inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness. It comprises more than 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions. It results from severe infection, traumas, degenerative changes (osteoarthritis, hypertrophic arthritis, senescent arthritis), metabolic disruptions, autoimmune disorders (lupus erythematous) or other causes. It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, is considered a chronic disease and patients with rheumatoid arthritis develop chronic arthritis pain. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis, especially among older populations, affecting over 20 million Americans. Two types of arthritis are Rheumatoid arthritis &osteoarthritis, both of which cause arthritic joint pain that can significantly impair a person's quality of life.

Causes: Daily activities such as getting out of bed and even walking can be affected by a painful joint. This arthritic joint pain is occurs when the lubricant, known as synovial fluid, present in the joints and cartilage becomes damaged. Because this fluid acts as a shock absorber and ensures that the ends of our bones are protected, when it is comprised, our bones can grind against each other, causing significant pain in our joints.

Painful joints and joint inflammation and stiffness typically characterize the disease. Some causes of arthritics include overuse, basic wear and tear, pseudogout, infections, autoimmune disorders, bone diseases or fractures, and bone tumors or cancer. In addition, medications, such as penicillin, and the common cold or flu often cause sore aching joints or stiff joints.

Treatments: While there is no known cure for a chronic condition like arthritis, there are treatments for inflamed, arthritic joints that really work and help sufferers manage their pain to lead normal healthy lives. Most often, a doctor, chiropractor or physical therapist will prescribe a medication program of prescription medicines and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to treat an injured joint. These medications aim to reduce the pain and inflammation of sore arthritic joints. However, they are associated with a number of bad side effects, such as drowsiness, constipation, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, headache and rash. Anti-inflammatory drugs are not your best treatment option because they do not heal your joints, they only mask the arthritis pain. A stiff injured joint is also sometimes managed with splints or braces of various types which allow the joint to rest.

Many Arthritis sufferers have found relief with natural supplementation of Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine. Chondroitin is a building block of the human connective tissue in bones and cartilage and glucosamine is the major constituent of joint cartilage. Other herbs to try might be curcumin, MSM, and boswellia.

Alternative treatments such as acupuncture, homeopathic medicines and yoga, a weight-bearing exercise that strengthens bones, have helped some arthritis sufferers find relief.

The intense flare-ups of arthritis pain can be best managed through conservative, regular treatments. Patient education on how to treat arthritis and self-care are critical components in healing painful joints. Patience is also key, as an inflamed joint can we slow to heal. Often the combination of therapeutic modalities, such as an herbal supplementation regime and, can offer the most arthritis pain relief.

Ultrasound Therapy: RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) can we a very useful procedure for managing arthritis pain, however, using therapeutic ultrasound prior to RICE treatment is best because the ultrasonic waves efficiently decrease inflammation and relive pain.

Joints have limited blood flow and as a result, they recover from arthritis flare-ups very slowly. In addition, inflammation and waste matter build-up due to the decreased blood flow causing extreme pain to arthritis sufferers. A personal, therapeutic ultrasound device acts as a blood flow stimulation therapy to increase circulation in the inflamed joint and decrease arthritic pain. People suffering from osteoarthritis pain or chronic Rheumatoid arthritis can perform rehabilitation at home now with the advent of portable ultrasound machines. The ultrasound therapy utilized by these devices can be used as an advanced treatment of arthritis and the chronic pain that accompanies the condition. Therapeutic ultrasound can be used to reduce pain, stimulate blood flow and injuries twice as fast.

Ultrasound physical therapy not only helps alleviate pain, but speeds up healing process as well. Ultra sound waves generate deep tissue vibrations that provide gentle heating to decrease pain and inflammation. The most rehabilitation benefits can be gained by utilizing therapeutic ultrasound at home.

Case Study: In a study by Casimiro et al, 2002 investigating the use of therapeutic ultrasound for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it was found that continuous ultrasound benefits grip strength when applied to the hands of RA sufferers. Ultrasound has both analgesic & anti-inflammatory effects, which is why its so widely prescribed for arthritis by qualified health care professionals. In two randomized trials, it was proven that continuous ultrasound applied to the hand increased grip strength and wrist dorsal flexion, as well as decreased morning stiffness and the number of swollen painful joints as compared with placebo.

Home Ultrasound Machines: A home ultrasound unit works the same way as bigger machines, found in physical therapist and chiropractor practices, but is more compact and priced reasonably so home users can afford to purchase. Portable ultrasound machines are also safe for use by the general public because they utilize pulsed, instead of continuous, ultrasound waves, which are just as effective when used on a daily basis. Physical therapy involving ultrasound for plantar fasciitis will provide users with immediate relief and continual healing over a 3-4 week period.

Because arthritis involves joint and bone inflammation, a specific kind of home ultrasound machine is required for treatment. A home ultrasound physical therapy machine should emit 1Mhz ultrasound waves. It is also important to purchase an FDA approved ultrasound unit that is quality manufactured. The portable therapeutic ultrasound device should also be covered with at least a 1 year warranty. And best of all, with a portable therapeutic ultrasound machine, on a daily basis you can treat your arthritis only when it's most convenient for you.

Conclusion: Studies have shown that people who receive early treatment for arthritis feel better sooner and more often, are more likely to lead an active life, and are less likely to experience chronic arthritis pain, and the type of joint damage that leads to joint replacement.

Arthritis sufferers can lead a more normal active life by reducing pain & swelling in their joints fast with a home ultrasound machine. If you would like to reduce or eliminate you intake of harmful pain-killers and improve your arthritic symptoms and chronic joint pain, a portable ultrasound unit would be a great, affordable option for managing your arthritis.

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