What is shockwave therapy?
Shock wave therapy also known as Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a noninvasive treatment that involves delivery of shock waves to injured soft tissue to reduce pain and promote healing.
Shockwave therapy is a viable option to consider for many patients who present with chronic tendinopathy that hasn’t responded to more-conservative treatments. Often difficult to treat, chronic tendinopathy is characterized by localized pain and pathological changes to a tendon. The condition affects athletes and nonathletes alike.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Shockwave therapy works by emitting high energy pulses. These pulses of acoustic energy are focused on the target tissues by the handpiece / applicator of the shockwave therapy machine and are believed to cause localized microtrauma that stimulates the bodies natural healing processes. The shock waves are believed to stimulate angiogenesis / neovascularization (new blood vessels) and neurogenesis (new nerve cells). The microtrauma increases local circulation and enhances breakdown of calcifications (calcium build-up).
What conditions are treated by shockwave therapy?
Shockwave therapy has shown to effectively treat the following conditions:
- Feet pain – heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis
- Elbow pain– Tennis and Golfer’s elbow
- Shoulder pain- Rotator cuff tendinosis
- Knee pain- patellar tendonitis
- Hip pain- bursitis, Proximal hamstring tendinopathy
- Lower leg – shin splints, Posterior tibial tendinopathy
- Upper leg – Iliotibial band friction syndrome
- Back pain – lumbar and cervical spine regions and chronic muscular pain
DOES SHOCKWAVE HURT?
Whilst some patients experience slight pressure or discomfort, the treatment is not generally painful. Given that shockwave therapy only usually lasts for around five minutes a session, most patients are able to tolerate it quite well. Occasionally, if the area being treated is already very painful, some increase in discomfort may be experienced during treatment. You should communicate any discomfort to your physiotherapist as they also have the ability to reduce the intensity of the treatment, and increase it gradually over the course of your shockwave therapy sessions as you become more tolerant.
ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
Side effects from ESWT are limited to mild bruising, swelling, pain, numbness or tingling in the treated area.
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