Shockwave Therapy

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What Does Shockwave Therapy Do?

what does shockwave therapy do

In the past injuries like shin tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, jumper’s knee and many more were incredibly challenging to treat or heal.

Shockwave Therapy changed all of this. It was originally used in the medical community to break up kidney stones without the need for surgery. Then over 25 years ago it was discovered to be beneficial for a wide range of conditions.

Shockwave Therapy (a.k.a Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy) produces high-pulse sound waves to the injured area that basically helps speed up your body’s natural healing processes by increasing blood flow to the area. It can stimulate collagen formation, break down scar tissue, and create a natural pain-relief effect. 

When many people hear the word “shockwave” they instantly think of an electric jolt you’d get from touching an outlet. But the shockwaves used in this type of therapy are high energy sound waves that create air pressure that transfers energy to the applicator and is then directed at the injured area.

These shockwaves trigger your body’s own repair mechanisms to speed up healing and offer long-term improvement.

The Ultimate Guide To Shockwave Therapy

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The Ultimate Guide To Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave Therapy Benefits

shockwave therapy benefits

When these sound waves interact with the tissues of your body these beneficial effects occur:

Generate New Blood Vessels

Blood flow is critical for healing tissue and injures.  Shockwave Therapy has been shown to stimulate angiogenesis which means it creates new capillaries in the target tissue. Thus increasing blood flow to the injured area for faster recovery.

Reverses Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is often the cause of chronic pain in your body. Inflammation is a natural response from your body to help heal the injured area. However, inflammation that doesn’t end can do more harm than good slowing down recovery. Shockwave Therapy can help reduce inflammation accelerating healing.

Stimulation of collagen

Production of enough collagen is essential for the repair processes. Shockwave therapy increases production of collagen. As the injured area returns back to having strong collagen fibres the functionality can be restored.

Not only that, there are several more benefits that make this treatment attractive to patients besides the high success rate.

No Downtime 

It is non-invasive and non surgical so patients can return to their normal life right after treatment. Patients can even drive themselves home after.

Dissolves Calcium Build-Up

When tendons go through chronic inflammation it can create a calcific response and can severely limit your mobility and range of motion.

For example, if there is calcium buildup in the shoulder can cause worsening symptoms of impingement and pain with movement. Calcium build up in other tendons like the patella tendon can cause that stiff feeling or limited movement.

Interrupts Pain Signals

You see, pain actually comes from your brain not the injured area. For example, if your knee hurts. The pain is not really in your knee. The knee is sending pain signals to your brain. Then your brain basically says that hurts. The medical term for this is Diffuse Noxious Inhibitory Control (DNIC). Shockwave Therapy can help override these pain signals from reaching your brain.

Check out this post (Read the caption) from ONE80 Health to learn more about Shockwave Therapy:

Cost Effective

The quicker your injury heals the less time you need to spend in rehabilitation. This can be a helpful alongside other therapies like chiropractic, massage and physiotherapy.

How Does Shockwave Therapy Work?

Once the Physiotherapist or Chiropractor identifies where the pain is coming from. Some gel is applied to the injured area to help the sound waves travel more easily through your tissue and to protect the skin from undue irritation.

Then the hand held Shockwave device is applied to the injured area.

How the shockwave device works is, it has a metal cylinder and there is a piece of metal that moves really quickly inside like a jackhammer. Now it’s not the part that touches your skin.

That part just makes contact with another piece of metal at the front of the device that doesn’t move. Because it crashes into it, it creates a sound wave. The sound wave then spreads through and is absorbed by the body causing the therapeutic effect. It’s been shown to be very effective for pain management in many different conditions.

Shockwave treatment courtesy of Lime Health and Wellness (Read the caption)

Conditions Successfully Treated With Shockwave Therapy

According to a study done at the University of Peloponnese in Greece.  They found that Shockwave Therapy was highly effective in relieving pain, increasing mobility, and quality of life. 

The conditions they treated successfully were Tendinopathies such as plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinopathy, rotator cuff tendinopathy, and elbow tendinopathy. They found no significant side effects. Those are the only conditions they tested with however there are many more conditions it’s known to be beneficial.

 

I’ll divide these complaints into eight categories:

Many patients feel relief after just one or two treatments. It just depends on how severe the injury is and the type of injury. During the treatment, the stimulation of your tissues can have a pain numbing effect that can last for hours. For others it can last for days.

Generally it can take up to 16 weeks to notice the full benefits of this Therapy.

What to Expect During and After Shockwave Therapy

what to expect during and after shockwave therapy

Before your Shockwave physiotherapy session can begin, your therapist will discuss your symptoms. Then assess your health to determine if this therapy would be beneficial for your condition.

Once they determine you are a good fit. There are three steps for treatment.

Step 1:

They will first locate the area to be treated by lightly pressing their finger to find the most tinder spot.

Step 2:

They will then apply a gel on and around the injured area. 

Step 3:

The hand held shockwave device will generate powerful sound waves that travel through the body. Which will only last for 5-15 minutes depending how many areas need to be treated.

Shockwave therapy causes your body to generate new tissue cells in the injured area.

The healing can take place over days, weeks, or months. Most will notice relief after the first treatment but 3-5 treatments are typically needed.

After the session, you may experience temporary tenderness and soreness in the treated area. Even if you have no pain after treatment it’s best to avoid strenuous activity for 48 hours that could stress the treated area.

What Are The Side Effects?

You may have mild bruising, swelling, pain, numbness, or tingling in the treated area which is minimal compared to if you had surgery. But it goes away rather quickly.

Check out this post from PhysioLink Porters Lake to learn more about Shockwave Therapy (Read the caption):

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Is Shockwave Therapy Painful?

You may feel some discomfort during the treatment. Most patients say it feels like little pulses against their skin.

If it is too painful for you, then you can tell your specialist to adjust the intensity to the right level for you.

Each session only lasts a few minutes so most patients can tolerate the level of discomfort.

Before you arrive it’s best to wear comfortable loose fitting clothes that make it easy to move around. It will make the session more comfortable for you. 

Check out this great post from Vitality Physiotherapy and Wellness Centre (Read the caption):

Is Shockwave Therapy Covered By Insurance?

Most insurance companies cover this type of therapy. For those without insurance it’s affordable and typical costs less than a Physiotherapy session.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Shockwave therapy has an 80% success rate around the world. There have been many studies done on the effectiveness of this therapy for a wide range of conditions that took longer to recover from prior to using shockwave therapy.

 

The number of treatments varies based on the type of injury. Your specialist will be able to determine how any treatments you may need. However, typically you will need 3-5 treatments which are done 3-10 days apart. Some even experience relief after the first treatment.

Most patients experience noticeable pain relief right after the treatment. There may be some soreness in the treated area. However this soreness is not limiting.

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IMS treatment is one of several possible methods for relieving pain that do not rely on prescription medications and all the side effects and baggage they come with. Not to mention that most drugs can only mask pain, but rarely address root causes. Find a clinic if you are suffering from muscle tightness, soreness, or pain to improve your quality of life, today.