Shockwave Therapy – What is it?
Despite its name, Shockwave therapy does not actually give you electric shocks. Instead, it applies mechanical rather than electrical energy. The device is similar to a smaller, very-low powered jackhammer. The head of the shockwave device creates (at a very high rate) areas of high pressure, followed by areas of low pressure. This then results in the dissolving and re-formation of gas bubbles that were already in the tissue (called “cavitation”). This alternating gas bubble formation/reabsorption results in a “micro-massage” of the cell walls of the tissues.
This ‘micro-massage’ results in:
- Increased blood flow thereby bringing in more oxygen and nutrients which are important for healing
- Stimulation or “waking up” of cells resulting in the release of chemicals that help reboot the inflammatory or healing process and promote increased blood vessel formation
- The physical break-down of calcifications in tendons
- Temporary numbing effect on local sensory nerves
What does Shockwave Therapy feel like?
Most patients report the sensation of light to moderate tapping with a numbing effect afterwards. Through the treatment, the intensity can be adjusted as required, increasing or decreasing intensity.
Isn’t Shockwave used for kidney stones? Is it dangerous?
In general, there are 2 types of Shockwave devices:
1) Focused or Hard Shockwave – which is more intense and used to break up kidney stones, typically found only at hospitals.
2) Radial/Diffused or Soft Shockwave – which we use at Thrive Now Physiotherapy. Ours provides a safe and comfortable treatment of a variety of musculoskeletal conditions (see below for a list).
Shockwave therapy is not normally used with patients who have; bleeding disorders (ie. on anticoagulant therapy or hemophilia), cement implants, local infection, open wounds, and cancer. Your physiotherapist will review your case with you to confirm if this therapy is appropriate for you.
Does it have any Side Effects?
The most common side effect after treatment is mild soreness and numbness that can last up to 1-2 days after the treatment. Bruising occasionally can occur.
What conditions can Shockwave Therapy help with?
It’s been shown to be effective for chronic or stubborn tendonitis’ and tendinopathies such as:
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Achilles tendonitis
- Shin Splints or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome
- Patellar Tendonitis
- Proximal Hamstring tendinopathy
- Greater trochanteric pain syndrome
- Supraspinatus or Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy
- Tennis Elbow
- Golfer’s Elbow
- Breaking up of calcifications in tendons of the shoulder
So, if you’ve tried regular physiotherapy treatment, followed your physiotherapist’s advice, and consistently done your exercises with limited improvements, then this treatment may be for you!
Talk to your Physio today to see how we can help!
Both our Cobble Hill & Duncan Clinics are Open Monday – Friday 7am to 7pm.
Registered Physiotherapist, Thrive Now Physiotherapy