Do not use ultrasound therapy for rotator cuff tendinopathy, ankle sprains and low back pain.

Type of practice

Other treatments

Topic Area

Physical Therapy

Some reviews show the ineffectiveness of therapeutic ultrasound in the treatment of these disorders. Its therapeutic efficacy on pain or functionality is not superior to placebo in rotator cuff tendinopathy, while in ankle sprains the effect is clinically negligible, in particular at 2-4 weeks after the injury. The available evidences on low back pain do not highlight the effectiveness of this therapeutic approach. For all the considered disorders, there is a lack of high-quality randomized controlled trials comparing the treatment with appropriate control groups. In absence of such evidences, the clinical use of ultrasound for the treatment of these disorders is not justified and should be discouraged.


1. Desmeules F, Boudreault J, Roy JS, Dionne C, Frémont P, MacDermid JC. The efficacy of therapeutic ultrasound for rotator cuff tendinopathy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phys Ther Sport. 2015 Aug;16(3):276-84.
2. Verhagen EA. What does therapeutic ultrasound add to recovery from acute ankle sprain? A review. Clin J Sport Med. 2013 Jan;23(1):84-5.
3. van den Bekerom MP1, van der Windt DA, Ter Riet G, van der Heijden GJ, Bouter LM. Therapeutic ultrasound for acute ankle sprains. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jun 15;(6):CD001250.
4. Seco J, Kovacs FM, Urrutia G. The efficacy, safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of ultrasound and shock wave therapies for low back pain: a systematic review. Spine J. 2011 Oct;11(10):966-77.



Attention. Please note that these items are provided only for information and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a clinician. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their clinician.