Biochemical and Physiological Events Involved in Responses to the Ultrasound Used in Physiotherapy: A Review


      Therapeutic ultrasound (TUS) is the ultrasound modality widely used in physical therapy for the treatment of acute and chronic injuries of various biological tissues. Its thermal and mechanical effects modify the permeability of the plasma membrane, the flow of ions and molecules and cell signaling and, in this way, promote the cascade of physiological events that culminate in the repair of injuries. This article is a review of the biochemical and physiological effects of TUS with parameters commonly used by physical therapists. Integrins can translate the mechanical signal of the TUS into a cellular biochemical signal for protein synthesis and modification of the active site of enzymes, so cell function and metabolism are modified. TUS also alters the permeability of the plasma membrane, allowing the influx of ions and molecules that modulate the cellular electrochemical signaling pathways. With biochemical and electrochemical signals tampered with, the cellular response to damage is then modified or enhanced. Greater release of pro-inflammatory factors, cytokines and growth factors, increased blood flow and activation of protein kinases also seem to be involved in the therapeutic response of TUS. Although a vast number of publications describe the mechanisms by which TUS can interact with the biological system, little is known about the metabolic possibilities of TUS because of the lack of standardization in its application.

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