Shockwave therapy has become a popular treatment option for various musculoskeletal conditions in recent years.
But you may be wondering – what exactly is shockwave therapy, and how does it work? In this article, we will explain the basics of this non-invasive treatment option.
What is Shockwave Therapy?
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Shockwave therapy, also called extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), is a treatment that uses high-energy sound waves to stimulate healing in injured tissues. Shockwave devices generate these focused sound waves and transmit them through the skin to the affected area.
The acoustic waves enter the body and transmit a high amount of energy to the targeted spot in a very short amount of time. This energy triggers a process called neovascularization, which boosts blood flow and metabolism to stimulate natural healing.
Shockwave therapy is often described as being similar to lithotripsy – the process used to break up kidney stones.
But while lithotripsy uses lower frequency waves to directly disintegrate the stones, shockwave therapy utilizes higher frequencies to provoke the body’s own healing mechanisms.
If you have any specific questions about shockwave therapy, you can contact Turning Point Physical Therapy in Edmonton, AB. The experts will better make you understand what it is and how it is properly used to treat different muscles and tissue conditions.
How is Shockwave Therapy Administered?
Shockwave therapy is non-invasive and does not require any surgical procedures, stitches, or anesthesia. Treatment sessions take about 10-20 minutes. Here’s how it works:
The person receiving shockwave therapy lies down, and the practitioner places a gel on the skin over the area being treated. This gel helps conduct the acoustic waves into the body.
The shockwave device’s applicator is then placed against the skin and positioned over the injured part with the guidance of ultrasound imaging.
Once the applicator is set, it delivers a series of shockwaves through the wall of the applicator into the tissue. Patients may feel a tapping or thumping sensation as the shockwaves enter the body.
Shockwave therapy is focused on the affected region, so no damage occurs to surrounding tissues. Since there are no wounds, the gel is simply wiped off afterward.
The session lasts just a few minutes, but the beneficial effects continue for several weeks afterward as the inflammatory and healing cascade continues. Several sessions spaced days or weeks apart may be required.
What Conditions Can Shockwave Therapy Treat?
Shockwave therapy promotes healing through several physiologic effects. It can effectively treat these common orthopedic conditions:
Plantar fasciitis – Chronic heel pain due to inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament. Shockwaves reduce inflammation and facilitate repair.
Achilles tendinopathy – Pain and dysfunction from degeneration of the Achilles tendon. Shockwaves provoke revascularization and remodeling.
Patellar tendinopathy (jumper’s knee) – Damaged patellar tendon, often from sports that require jumping. Shockwaves stimulate regeneration.
Calcific shoulder tendinitis – Shoulder pain caused by calcium deposits in rotator cuff tendons. Shockwaves break up deposits.
Stress fractures – Small cracked bones are often caused by overuse in athletes. Shockwaves accelerate healing.
Osteoarthritis pain – Chronic arthritis pain in joints like the knee, hip, and shoulder. Shockwaves reduce inflammation.
Low back pain – Pain from degenerative disc disease, pinched nerves, spinal stenosis, etc. Shockwaves reduce symptoms.
Shockwave Therapy in Edmonton also shows promise in treating sprained or strained ligaments and tendons in other areas like the wrists, elbows, and ankles. More research is underway for additional uses as well.
How Safe and Effective is Shockwave Therapy?
Multiple high-quality studies have demonstrated that shockwave therapy provides good to excellent relief for various chronic tendon conditions and arthritis-based pain with very few risks.
About 75% of patients see a significant reduction in symptoms. Positive effects may last for over a year with minimal side effects.
Shockwave therapy has proven to be very safe when performed correctly by certified providers. There is little damage to surrounding tissues. Minor pain or swelling may occur afterward but subsides within a day or two.
A few precautions exist – shockwaves can disrupt pregnancy, so it should be avoided in pregnant women.
They may also temporarily worsen symptoms of osteoporosis, tumors, infections, bleeding disorders, and congestive heart failure, so extra precautions should be taken.
Moreover, Physiotherapy in Edmonton gives a much-needed non-surgical option for nagging injuries and pain. It facilitates natural healing and often works when other conservative treatments have failed.
Shockwave therapy is an effective option for various chronic orthopedic conditions, from plantar fasciitis to arthritis pain. During treatment, focused acoustic waves pass through the skin to deliver targeted energy that kickstarts the body’s own healing response.
This non-invasive method reduces inflammation, stimulates new blood vessels and tissue regeneration, and provides lasting relief safely and efficiently.
Talk to your physical therapist or doctor to see if shockwave therapy may be right for your musculoskeletal injury. You can also talk to one of the experts at Turning Point Physical Therapy in Edmonton, AB.