Real-time Ultrasound



Why do Physiotherapists perform Ultrasound?

Physiotherapists use real-time ultrasound to examine how the deep stabilising muscles of the spine are functioning. This assessment screens if the core muscles of the spine or what we are now referring to as the “abdominal cylinder” muscles or “cannister” muscles of the trunk are being recruited ideally to best supports the spine.

Why is it important?

In episodes of low back pain these deep stabilising muscles get inhibited and on the real time ultrasound we can see poor timing, incorrect recruitment and muscular movement patterns that can exacerbate the back condition.

Abdominal muscle cannister includes the transverse abdominas (which is the lower abdominal muscles), pelvic floor muscles, deep lower back muscles (multifidis) and diaphragm. The four parts of the abdominal cannister work synergistically together to best support the spine. This is referred to lumber pelvic stability in the literature and often spoken of as “neutral” spine.

The deep abdominal muscle transversus abdominus, surrounds the trunk and acts like a natural back brace. The pelvic floor works to regulate bladder and bowel control, support the pelvic organs and is important in sexual function. These muscles work in unison with the diaphragm and other spinal stabilising muscles to provide core stability.

Scientific research has shown that during an episode of low back pain these important deep stabilising muscles can switch off, waste away long after the pain has settled. They do not automatically return to ideal function on resolution of pain. This is why it is vital after an episode of low back pain that your deep stabilising muscles are assessed. The real time ultrasound is a fantastic biofeedback tool to help you see and understand how these muscles work to prevent reoccurence of low back pain and possible spinal degeneration over time.

What is involved?

A specially trained physiotherapist will measure the function, the hold time and overall contraction sequences between your muscles. This is performed in different positions and can be customised for each individual.

Real time ultrasound is safe, effective non invasive and pain free. A small ultrasound head and water soluble gel are placed on various muscles and the images are viewed on a screen. Images can be recorded and measured for future comparison.

Who needs Real Time Ultrasound assessment?

Real time ultrasound is recommended for a wide range of people including:

  • low back pain (acute, chronic or recurrent),
  • sacrioliac joint pain or excess pelvic joint movement
  • mid back pain
  • neck pain
  • hip pain
  • knee pain
  • foot pain
  • shoulder pain
  • bladder dysfunction
  • pelvic floor muscle contraction (correct movement pattern)
  • residual urine volumes
  • pre and post spinal surgery
  • ante/post natal mothers
  • injured workers
  • athletes/dancers/gymnasts


" Empowering women to maintain a strong well-functioning body."