15 Apr 2022
All About Shockwave TherapyHave you ever heard the term “shockwave therapy” and wondered if it would be the right treatment for you? But what is shockwave therapy anyway? The name makes it sound daunting, but this treatment method can be very safe and effective for many injuries! Our Physiotherapists are trained to provide shockwave therapy!
What is Shockwave Therapy and how does it work?Shockwave therapy, also known as Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, is a treatment method that involves directing high energy sound waves to the site of injury to promote the body’s natural healing and repair process. Fun fact: it was originally developed to break up kidney stones in the body without having direct contact with the stones! So how does it work? First, the area of injury is located and a water-based ultrasound gel is applied. A handheld applicator is then placed on the skin to begin the treatment process. High energy sound waves are delivered through the applicator, via pulse-like pressures, to the injured tissues underneath. From these pulses, a process called “cavitation” occurs in the tissues, where small empty bubbles expand and burst, which creates mini injuries in the area. But don’t be scared! These mini injuries are super tiny and are produced to breakdown any calcium deposits that may be present in the injured area and promote healing.
What are the benefits from Shockwave Therapy?Cavitation from the shockwave causes a localized inflammation response to occur. This brings in cells that are responsible for creating and repairing blood vessels, tissues, and bone. With new and improved blood vessels, there is an increase in circulation at the site of injury, leading to quicker healing time! Extra collagen is also produced from cavitation, which further promotes tissue repair. As for those pesky calcium deposits that may have formed within your injury, shockwave therapy works to break them as well as any scar tissue in the area. Pain reduction is another huge benefit from shockwave therapy! During treatment, you may experience strong and deep pulses against your skin; this may lead to some mild discomfort, but it shouldn’t be painful overall. This process works to reduce a chemical, called substance P, found in your body. When we decrease the amount of substance P, it reduces the pain signals being sent to your brain. So what does that mean for you? It means you will get pain relief immediately after treatment! Typically, shockwave therapy is shown to improve injuries within 2-3 sessions. To top it all off, there are no major negative effects with shockwave therapy! How great is that? Some common minor side effects include: mild bruising, swelling, post-treatment soreness, numbness, and tingling in the area.
Which injuries can Shockwave Therapy treat?Shockwave therapy is proven to eliminate pain and restore functionality, so it can be a great option for specific injuries. These may include, but are not limited to:
- Achilles Tendinopathy
- Plantar Fasciopathy
- Patellar Tendinopathy (Jumper’s Knee)
- Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)
- Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
- Calcification at tendons
- Heel spurs
- Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)
- Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)
Is Shockwave Therapy suitable for everyone?Unfortunately, no. There are a few conditions that may prevent someone from receiving shockwave therapy, as it may be harmful for them if they were to proceed with treatment. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Individuals under the age of 18 (due to continuous bone growth)
- Metal pins and/or plates
- Nerve or circulatory disorders
- Blood clotting disorders (eg. thrombosis)
- Active infections
- Certain medications (eg. blood thinners)
- Implanted devices (eg. pacemakers)
- Joint replacements
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