Real Time Ultrasound Feature Image

Real Time Ultrasound

Real Time Ultrasound uses technology very similar to that used during pregnancy to provide imaging of underlying muscles and joints of the body. Used to provide highly detailed, real time information on the underlying muscles of the lower back and neck, it is the clinical equivalent of putting a video camera in your spine. This allows us to quickly, efficiently and non-invasively gather a range of information that The Ashgrove Spinal Centre’s Chiropractor, Dr Bailey, can use to better manage your spinal health.

We use this information for a variety of reasons ranging from examining your spine to determine its condition, all the way through to training you to better activate those hard-to-find muscles that might have become a little lazy over the years. Used either alone or as a part of your overall management plan, Real Time Ultrasound can make an important contribution to reaching your ultimate spinal health goals.

What is Real Time Ultra Sound (RTUS)

Real Time UltrasoundThe machine used in RTUS imaging is non-invasive (does not break the skin) and does not use radiation. Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves and their echoes to produce an image. It is the same type of machine used to look at the unborn baby when a woman is pregnant. Dr Bailey will use an ultra sound scanner which transmits high frequency sound waves into your body. The soundwaves are reflected back into the ultrasound scanner as they hit a boundary between tissues (eg. between muscle and fluid, or bone and muscle). The ultra sound machine then processes these waves and transforms them into an image. Some waves travel further than others, hence the ability to see layers at different depths within the body.

In cases of acute or chronic lower back pain, poor posture, incontinence or following spinal and abdominal surgery (including C-sections), Dr Bailey may suggest using RTUS as part of your treatment. When attending a real-time ultrasound appointment, please ensure you have an ‘almost full’ bladder as this greatly enhances the image clarity. The first session will typically take up to an hour.

Real Time Ultra Sound and Your Lower Back

Your deep stabilising muscles (known as Transverse Abdominus and Multifidus), located in the lumbar spine, help to protect and stabilise your lower back and pelvis when you are moving. These muscles also assist in preventing injury. When these muscles become weak and don’t do their job properly you can start to experience low back pain, sacro-illiac pain, poor pelvic stability and overuse syndromes. This weakness can also be referred to as weak core strength. The pain affected by weak core strength can inflect on your everyday life, work and sporting performance.

Recent published research has examined the role of these deep stabilising muscles in the lower spine and their association with low back pain. It has been found that in the event of an injury to the lumbar spine, the stabilising muscles become significantly weakened which can lead to the development of chronic or recurrent low back pain and poor injury recovery.

Strengthening the Stabilising muscles

The stabilising muscles of the lumbar spine will not usually recover from an injury without exercises being performed that are specifically aimed at reactivating and strengthening them. Unfortunately these muscles are hidden deep in your abdomen and beneath two outer muscles that are quite difficult to feel, and therefore difficult for you to activate or switch on and exercise. Trying to locate and exercise these muscles can often be a difficult and frustrating process for both the patient and the chiropractor who are both striving for an optimal outcome of improving your back pain. This is where Real Time Ultrasound Imaging comes in. By allowing Dr Bailey to view the stabilising muscles as you use them, he can provide you with an accurate assessment of the quality, timing and endurance of your stabilising muscles. Also, because you can see the image and their muscles contract, Real Time Ultrasound provides important feedback to you on how well you are performing your exercises and if you are activating and exercising the right muscles.

“The ultrasound scanner provides you with a video picture of your muscles working. This enables you to precisely match up what you think you feel with what is actually happening beneath your skin at that very moment.” –Dr Robert Bailey

Dr Bailey provides a comprehensive real time ultrasound service; patients with low back pain will usually require 4 to 6 sessions, on average, to learn how to activate and exercise the right muscles successfully. Once this has been achieved, Dr Bailey will advise you of the most appropriate form of exercise to improve and maintain the strength of these very important stabilising muscles.

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