Shockwave therapy is a cutting-edge, non-invasive, and multi-disciplinary device used to treat localised musculoskeletal pain. Radial Shockwave Therapy (RSWT) works by sending rapid percussion shock waves into your soft tissues or outer layers of bone.
As a result, it “re-injures” the area on a cellular level in a controlled manner and breaks up the scarring that has often developed in your muscles, tendons, ligaments or fascia layers. The controlled tissue re-injuring helps the body to up-regulate production of bone forming cells and micro blood vessels. The resulting neovascularization (growth of new blood vessels to an old, damaged area) will result in faster healing and better nutrient supply to healing tissues.
Shockwave therapy is considered to be particularly useful at helping with pain management and tissue rehabilitation. The efficacy of the procedure is often attributed to three reasons:
- The shock waves will stimulate a metabolic reaction in the tissue affected
- It will help breakdown fibrous adhesions between tissues, allowing restored mobility
- It induces an analgesic reaction mechanism which results in the blocking of pain messages to the brain
Radial shockwave therapy is used to treat a number of conditions, including:
- Tendonitis of the shoulder
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Plantar fasciitis
- Tendonitis of the knee
- Tendonitis of the foot
- Jumper’s knee
- Heel spurs
- Golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow
- Painful muscle trigger points (TPs)
- Most conditions causing pain or poor mobility of soft tissues
The equipment used in the procedure will generate a series of rapid impulses whereby a projectile in the handle is programmed to move up and down at specific frequency and power. The projectile in the handle will hit the metal applicator head repeatedly, causing a series of rapid “shockwaves” which will penetrate up to several centimetres into the tissues. The energy will cause a hyper-stimulation analgesic effect which results in many patients feeling some relief over targeted areas almost immediately.
These controlled impulses also initiate a cascade of cellular reactions which improves blood flow and tissue repair, even in areas which have been damaged for long periods of time.
Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that can be done in 3 simple steps.
1. The location of the area to be treated is located and determined by the doctor through palpation. This is done to ensure the therapy is delivered accurately.
2. A friction reducing gel is applied to the area targeted. The gel is necessary so the transfer of the percussion waves is done smoothly and efficiently.
3. The shockwave applicator is pushed into the area that needs treatment and the start button is pressed for an indicated number of impulses to each section.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many patients suffering from chronic pain symptoms have tried various types of treatments with no success. Up to 80 percent of said patients worldwide reported successful treatment of the problem using shockwave therapy or shockwave combined with other therapies when indicated.
You might experience a very minimal feeling of discomfort or prickling sensation during the treatment, depending on the level of pain you are already experiencing in the affected area. Fortunately, since the treatment will only last around 4-8 minutes per session, the slight feeling of discomfort is often tolerable by most patients.
Most patients report immediate relief from pain following the treatment. However, within a few hours after the procedure until the day after, you might experience some soreness in the treated area. Fortunately, many report the soreness as non-limiting and tolerable. We also advise patients new to shockwave therapy to apply a cold compress to the treated area on days of treatment to reduce inflammation and soreness which may result.
It is recommended that you refrain from any physical activity that can stress the treated region the first 48 hours after the treatment session. As patients improve, restrictions on activities may be lifted or modified as necessary.
Author: Dr. Michael Bryant