What is Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave therapy is a treatment that uses acoustic wave technology to trigger your body’s natural healing response. It can be an effective and non-invasive option to get relief from a range of chronic conditions or injuries, as it can reduce pain, improve mobility, and speed-up healing times.
One major benefit of shockwave therapy is that it is non-invasive, and provides rapid relief that can help you avoid the need for painkillers or more invasive treatments like surgery.
What can Shockwave Therapy treat?
By promoting your body’s natural regeneration of bones, tendons and other soft tissues, shockwave therapy can help with a wide range of injuries and conditions. As a result, this technology is used in a variety of medical disciplines. This includes physiotherapy, sports medicine, orthopaedics, urology and veterinary medicine. It is used to treat a wide range of conditions, including:
- Arthritis pain
- Muscular injuries
- TMJ or jaw pain
- Erectile dysfunction
- Golfers and tennis elbow
- Back pain
- Shin splints
- Plantar fasciitis
- Heels spurs
- Trigger finger
- Dupuytren’s disease
- Scar tissue
What are the benefits of Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave therapy is able to help with a range of conditions because it offers a number of benefits. Some of those benefits include:
Improved blood flow
The acoustic waves used in shockwave therapy can create microruptures in tendon and bone which stimulates the body’s natural healing processes. This can promote the forming of new blood vessels, providing improved flow of blood and the nutrients needed for tissue regeneration and bone and tendon repair.
Mast cells are a type of white blood cell that play an important role in the function of your immune system. One function mast cells serve is to produce substances that help reduce inflammation. Shockwave therapy stimulates the activity of these mast cells, which helps provide relief from injuries or conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Increased Collagen Production
Collagen is an essential component for bone and joint health, and shockwave therapy aids your body in increasing the production of collagen. This helps promote the repair of damaged soft tissues.
Relaxed Trigger Points
Trigger points are areas of the body that are affected by extreme muscle tension. That often includes points in the neck and back. Due to this tension, they can cause reduced range of movement, joint issues, and pain. Shockwave therapy encourages the muscles to release the tension, providing relief from these issues.
Reduced Calcium Build-Up
When a tendon becomes damaged, it often leads to a build-up of calcium. This calcification of soft tissues can lead to further issues, including artery disease. Shockwave therapy can help restore your tendons to a healthy condition and improve flexibility by breaking up the calcifications.
What does a Shockwave Therapy session involve?
Before receiving shockwave treatment, a physiotherapist will assess your condition to confirm that shockwave therapy is an appropriate solution for you. The physiotherapist may also recommend what you can do in combination with the treatment to get the best results. This may include activity modification, exercises, as well as assessing any other contributing factors such as posture, tightness/weakness of other muscle groups etc.
Similar to an ultrasound, a gel is applied to the skin which helps the acoustic waves travel efficiently. A shockwave applicator is lightly pressed against the treatment area to emit the acoustic waves. The treatment lasts about 5 minutes.
Some patients experience a feeling of discomfort during the treatment, and this may depend on how much pain they already have in the affected area. However, the intensity of the acoustic waves can be adjusted during the session to ensure you are comfortable.
Shockwave treatment is usually done once a week for 3-6 weeks, depending on results. But often patients experience some immediate results — including pain relief and improved mobility. So, speak to your healthcare provider to help determine if shockwave therapy is right for you.