Shockwave therapy is a proven form of treatment that uses sound waves to relieve pain and facilitate healing. It is a treatment option for musculoskeletal disorders, such as tendonitis and plantar fasciitis, and it offers a non-invasive alternative to options such as corticosteroid injections. Learn more about the benefits and risks associated with this innovative form of treatment.
What is shockwave therapy?
It is a physical treatment that uses high-energy acoustic waves — known as shockwaves — to treat musculoskeletal pain and promote the healing of painful tissue. It works by stimulating increased blood circulation and cell growth, improving elasticity in the affected area, and ultimately reducing inflammation and pain. In some cases, it can be very effective in breaking up scar tissue or calcifications.
The treatment sessions are quick, usually taking 5–10 minutes. The practitioner applies a device – similar to an ultrasound machine – to the skin, moving it over the affected area. It’s a painless process, although it can be mildly uncomfortable – let your practitioner know if you experience any significant discomfort, as they will be able to adjust the intensity. The number of sessions varies, depending on the condition. Most problems will take 3–5 sessions to resolve.
How does it work?
Shockwave therapy works by sending acoustic waves at high intensity into the affected area. The high-energy sound waves generated by the device create a pulsation effect that trigger the body’s natural healing responses. This is particularly effective in stubborn cases that have failed to heal fully. The technique initiates a new healing cycle, therefore allowing even chronic problems to resolve fully.
In addition, sometimes injured areas can become calcified. The body can lay down calcium deposits to protect damaged tissue, causing pain. This is especially common in damaged shoulder (rotator cuff) tendons. Shockwave therapy can break down and disperse these calcified deposits, facilitating a return to good function.
This process uses your body’s own physiological mechanisms to heal damage or impairment in affected areas. This provides targeted long-term relief without the need for surgery or injections.
What problems can shockwave therapy help?
Most research around shockwave therapy has focused on problems of tendons and connective tissue. Examples include Achilles tendinopathy, tennis and golfer’s elbow, and plantar fasciitis (pain in the sole of the foot). Similarly, it can help tendons heal after joint surgery.
Equally, exciting new research has shown how shockwave therapy can stimulate nerves and blood vessels to regenerate, and medics are using it in some cases of spinal cord injury.
What are the risks?
Shockwave therapy can be extremely effective, and it has very few risks associated with it. Occasionally, some people experience mild side-effects. The most common of these are temporary soreness at the application site, bruising, swelling or tingling after the treatment. However, these usually resolve within a day or two.
People with nerve damage (neuropathy) should avoid having shockwave therapy as a treatment, as it can aggravate the condition. If you have cancer, you’ve had a recent steroid injection or you’re pregnant, shockwave therapy is not appropriate for you. In addition, you should seek advice if you have a history of blood clotting disorders or take blood-thinning medication, or if you have any metal pins or plates near the treatment site. Your practitioner will be able to advise you. It’s important that the device is applied correctly to avoid damage, so make sure your practitioner is fully qualified and experienced.
What are the benefits?
Shockwave therapy has been shown to be effective in treating a range of muscle, tendon and soft tissue conditions, including hamstring pulls, bursitis, tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.
It is also useful in reducing chronic pain and inflammation. It can stimulate the healing of damaged tissue and improve mobility and flexibility. There are several other potential benefits to shockwave therapy, including reduced scarring and faster post-injury recovery times.
This type of treatment is also non-invasive, so it can be administered as a safe alternative to injections or sometimes even surgery.
Here at Woodside Clinic, we have been able to help many patients who have struggled with long-term pain and dysfunction. Shockwave therapy has enabled them to get back to their normal lives, activities and sports quickly, even where other treatments have failed to produce results. So, if you’ve been in pain for a long time, perhaps it’s time to give shockwave therapy a try.
Shockwave Therapy in Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard
If you have a problem or condition that you feel could benefit from shockwave therapy, whether it’s new or long-standing, give us a call or book now to find out more.