Real Time Ultrasound (RTU)
RTU provides real time imaging of the stabilising muscles of the lumbar spine and is conducted by Sportreat’s physiotherapists.
The deep stabilising muscles of the lumbar spine (Transverse Abdominus and Multifidus) form an essential girdle that protects and stabilizes the trunk and pelvis during movement to prevent injury. Weakness in this area is often referred to as poor core stability or core weakness. This can lead to low back pain, sacro-illiac pain, poor pelvic stability and overuse syndromes that may affect everyday life, work and sporting performance.
In line with this, recent published research has looked at the role of the deep stabilising muscles in the lumbar spine and their association with low back pain. Research shows that in the event of an injury to the lumbar spine, the stabilising muscles become significantly inhibited which can lead to the development of chronic or recurrent low back pain and poor injury recovery.
Strengthening the Stabilising muscles
Research also shows that the stabilising muscles of the lumbar spine do not usually recover from injury without specific exercises aimed at reactivating and strengthening them. As these muscles are deep and difficult to feel this can often be a difficult and frustrating process for both the patient and the physiotherapist who are both striving for an optimal outcome. Whilst clinical pilates, fitball and global strength exercises are of benefit, these are often not very effective at accurately facilitating the stabilising muscles. The most effective exercises for the stabilising muscles are specific and based on accurate assessment taking into account the patient’s individual condition.
The role of RTU
Real time ultrasound imaging allows the physiotherapist to view the stabilising muscles as the contraction occurs and provides an accurate assessment of the quality, timing and endurance of the stabilising muscle contraction. Since the patient may also view the image and see their muscle contract, real time ultrasound provides important feedback to the patient on how well they are performing their exercises and is a powerful teaching tool.
Sportreat provides a comprehensive real time ultrasound service. Patients with low back pain will usually require 4 to 6 sessions on average to retrain their core stability successfully. Once this has been achieved the physiotherapist will advise you of the most appropriate form of exercise to maintain the strength of the stabilising muscles. This may include clinical pilates and hydrotherapy.
As the RTU is provided by the physiotherapists at Sportreat, the service is claimable for members of Private Health Insurance Companies under their ancillary cover. RTU is also available to those covered under Workers Compensation and other Third Party Insurers.