Shockwave therapy is a clinically proven treatment that promotes rapid healing of injured tissue. It produces excellent results in the treatment of various injuries and helps maintain a healthy lifestyle. Shockwave therapy involves the application of an intense, but very short energy wave travelling faster than the speed of sound into the tissue of the affected area. The bombarding of the affected tissue by pneumatically generated acoustic waves produces a number of biological responses resulting in new blood vessel growth which dramatically accelerates the healing process. This proven method of treatment is one of the most advanced and highly effective noninvasive treatment methods cleared by the FDA.
What conditions can Shockwave Therapy treat?
Shockwave Technology can be utilized to effectively treat a wide variety of conditions including but not limited to the following:
- Treatment of tendinopathies
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Heel spurs/plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band Syndrome)
- Patellar Tendinitis (Jumper’s Knee)
- Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
- Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow
- Calcific Tendinitis
- Myofascial Trigger Points in muscle
How does Shockwave (SW) therapy work?
The mechanism and benefits of action from SW is not yet completely understood. Many of the following mechanisms have been described in explaining the effects:
- Improved blood flow – Normal blood flow is necessary to start and maintain the repair processes of damaged tissues. The acoustic wave causes micro ruptures that stimulates re-vascularization, improving blood supply and oxygenation to support faster healing in tendon and bone.
- Stimulation of collagen – Collagen is an important building block and necessary in the repair process of the musculoskeletal system. Shockwave therapy accelerates pro-collagen synthesis creating a denser and stiffer structure.
- Break down of calcium calcium build-up – Acoustic waves break up the existing calcifications that are a result of micro-tears and trauma to tendons. Shockwave therapy starts the biochemical decalcification of the calcium build-up and then the lymphatic system removes the particles.
- Pain reduction – Substance P is a neurotransmitter that relays nociceptive messages to the central nervous system. It is associated with intense, persistent and chronic pain. Acoustic shockwaves lower the Substance P concentration and thus reduce pain.
- Muscle tone reduction – An active trigger point is a hyper-irritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a tender and palpable nodule in a taut band of muscle. The contraction causes decreased blood supply and waste product build up. Shockwave treatment reduces the contractile activity in the muscle to effectively decrease muscle tone and spasm.
- Relief of pain may be immediate however, at the cellular level the healing process may take from three to six months to regenerate.
Does Shockwave therapy work?
Shockwave therapy has been proven as effective and safe non-invasive treatment option for tendon and other pathologies of the musculoskeletal system in a multitude of high-quality random controlled trials. It has been shown, in the short term, to have a 56 to 90% success rate in the treatment of many soft tissue disorders.
- Shockwave has been shown to be effective in treating plantar fasciitis with overall results of 75.3% of patient’s complaint free and 18.8% significantly better at one year follow up.
- Shockwave therapy has also been shown to be effective to treat symptoms of calcific rotator cuff tendinopathy with a 70 per cent elimination of the calcification. I
- A study showed that 75 per cent of patients who are treated with SWT have significant improvement for their Achilles tendinopathy in conjunction with eccentric loading exercises.
- Shockwave therapy has been proven to be incredibly successful for the treatment of chronic proximal hamstring, tendinopathy in professional athletes, whereby SWT was eight times more effective than traditional methods.
- SW therapy has also been shown to be effective for jumper’s knee, tennis elbow, stress fractures, non-union of bones, adhesive capsulitis, trigger point therapy, paraspinal muscle pain, Osgood Schlatters and the relief of fascial pain.
What should I expect at my Shockwave appointment?
Shockwave therapy will be recommended only after a thorough orthopedic examination by your physiotherapist to determine that you are an appropriate candidate.
Shockwave treatment is noninvasive. Our clinic uses the Storz Radial Shockwave system to deliver the treatment which uses the most successful technology used worldwide today. Gel is applied to the treatment area; shockwaves are then released through the applicator as it is moved over the treatment area. Following pretreatment education and expectations the actual application of the shockwave treatment lasts for 3 – 5 minutes and includes 2000 shocks per injury location.
Most patients experience significant improvement while undergoing the first three treatments, and improvements often continue for several weeks. In some cases, improvements can be seen up to three to four months following therapy.
What to Expect After Treatment?
Many clients experience a decrease or complete absence of pain immediately after treatment. In some cases, patients may experience minor discomfort for a few days. Shockwave purposefully creates an inflammatory response in the injured tissue so pain can be normal and your body’s way of healing itself and regenerating the targeted tissue. Patients should therefore not interrupt this response by using ice or take anti-inflammatories after the treatment.
Beneficial effects are often experienced after only 1 or 2 treatments and there is no downtime. Your physiotherapist will instruct you on activity modification and specific exercises to augment the treatment.
Wang, CJ, Chen, HS. Shock Wave Therapy for Patients with Lateral Epicondylitis of the Elbow. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 30, No.8: 422-425, 2002
Kim YS, Lee HJ, Kim YV, Kong CG: Which method is more effective in treatment of calcific tendinitis in the shoulder? J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2014 Nov;23(11):1640-6.
Rompe J, Furia J, Maffulli N. Eccentric loading vs eccentric loading plus shock wave treatment for mid‐portion Achilles tendinopathy. A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2009;37(3):463‐470.
Cacchio , Rompe JD, Furia JP, Susi P, Santilli V, De Paulis F. Shockwave therapy for the treatment of chronic proximal hamstring tendinopathy in professional athletes. Am J Sports Med. 2011 Jan;39(1):146-53.