Design and evaluation of a wearable self-applied therapeutic ultrasound device for chronic myofascial pain

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2013 Aug;39(8):1429-39. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2013.03.007. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Ultrasound therapy for pain and healing is a versatile treatment modality for musculoskeletal conditions that is used daily in rehabilitation clinics around the world. Our group designed and constructed a wearable, battery-operated, low-intensity therapeutic ultrasound (LITUS) device that patients could self-apply and operate during daily activity for up to 6 h. Thirty patients with chronic trapezius myofascial pain evaluated the LITUS system in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 10-d study under institutional review board approval. While continuing their prescribed medication regimen, patients with the active device reported on average 1.94× reduction in pain and 1.58× improvement in health relative to placebo devices after 1 h of treatment. Both of these results were statistically significant (p < 0.05) for the first 2 d of the study. Male patients reported the majority of benefit, and there is a sex-treatment confound in the sample. The study indicates that wearable, long-duration LITUS technology improves mobile access to drug-free pain relief.

Keywords: Clinical study; Low-intensity therapeutic ultrasound; Myofascial pain; Outpatient setting; Pain management; Physiotherapy; Therapeutic ultrasound device; Wearable ultrasound device.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain / prevention & control*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Miniaturization
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / prevention & control*
  • Placebo Effect
  • Self Care / instrumentation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / instrumentation*