What is Shockwave therapy?
Shockwave therapy was originally designed for the treatment of kidney stones, back in the early 1980. Since then it has been refined and has found other uses in orthopaedics, sport medicine and physiotherapy. Shockwave therapy has been found to be an effective treatment modality for many musculoskeletal injuries, such as persistent tendon injuries and plantar fasciopathy amongst others.
Treatment involves a Shockwave device delivering acoustic waves to the area requiring healing. Research has found that this benefits injured tissue in a number of ways:
- Pain reduction
- Improved blood supply
- Promote tissue regeneration in muscle, tendon or bone
- Reverse chronic tissue inflammation
- Reduce calcification
- Release trigger points
We use the state of the art DJO Chattanooga RPW2 shockwave device, which utilises the same Storz Medical Falcon handpiece used in most research settings, to ensure we achieve optimal outcomes for our clients.
What is involved in shockwave therapy?
Before we can undertake shockwave therapy treatment with a client, a detailed assessment is required with one of our experienced physiotherapists. During this assessment we determine if shockwave therapy is indicated and will help you achieve a faster and better recovery. We offer shockwave treatment in conjunction with physiotherapy treatment, with evidence showing the best outcomes are achieved when shockwave and exercise therapy are combined.
It uses a pneumatically powered handpiece that generate radial shockwaves, which are transmitted to the site of the injury through a conducting gel. The treatment session uses 2000-3000 pulsed shockwaves into the affected area and lasts approximately 3-10 minutes.
The body’s natural healing process continues after the prescribed course of shockwave therapy. Part of the treatment plan will also include advice on how to manage your condition and rehabilitation to strengthen the area, which will minimise the risk of re-injury.
Based on research findings and expert consensus, for most conditions 6 shockwave sessions, spaced a week apart, followed by an exercise program aimed at getting you back to normal function and performing at your best. A typical treatment pathway including shockwave treatment and exercise rehabilitation takes approximately 12 weeks.
For which conditions can Shockwave Therapy help?
Research findings show the benefit of shockwave therapy treatment for many musculoskeletal injuries. This includes the often difficult to treat and often lingering tendon related injuries, such as Achilles tendon injuries and tennis elbow. The list below contains an example of injuries and conditions for which shockwave therapy has found the beneficial. If you’re not sure if your injury will benefit from shockwave therapy, you can contact us HERE.
Frozen shoulder, also known as Adhesive Capsulitis, is a debilitating condition which results in progressive loss of shoulder range of motion and function. Physiotherapy treatment aimed at restoring the mobility of the shoulder is a common treatment to improve someone’s function. Research shows that shockwave treatment can assist in improving both the range of motion, the function as well as help reduce the pain.
Calcifying Tendinitis is a condition in which calcium deposit form in the rotator cuff tendons. You may feel pain when lying on your shoulder or raising your arm above shoulder level. It’s usually found in patients that are at least 30-40 years of age and with an increased incidence of diabetes. For the treatment of Calcifying Tendinitis of the shoulder a multitude of recent studies have shown a positive outcome from Shockwave treatment when compared to either placebo or alternative treatment modalities.
Tennis Elbow, also known as lateral epicondyle tendinopathy, is an injury of the tendon that attaches at the outside of the elbow. People typically experience pain during activities that involve gripping and is usually caused by activities that involve repetive gripping, resulting in a cumulative overload. This condition can be extremly debilitating and severly restrict a person’s functional capacity.
Research shows that shockwave therapy achieves signifcant improvements in reducing pain during activity, exercise and sleep in tennis elbow.
Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondyle tendinopathy, is an injury of the tendon that attaches to the inside of the elbow joint. Similar to tenis elbow, people often experience pain during repetitive wrist and finger movements such as gripping, typing or mouse use. Research shows that shockwave therapy offers similar benefits for this injury as it does for tennis elbow.
Foot and Heel Pain
Plantar Fasciopathy, previosuly known as plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes and supports the arch of your foot. With Plantar Fasciopathy you’ll experience pain when you walk or stand, particularly upon rising in the morning.
For chronic, obstinate heel pain that’s been resistant to other commonly used non-operative therapies, Shockwave is a safe and effective non-surgical method. Consider Shockwave therapy before any surgical intervention.
Achilles Tendon Pain
Achilles tendon pain is commonly caused by repeated micro injuries to the connective tissue in the Achilles tendon over time. Stiffness at the Achilles tendon and a burning sensation at the back of the heel are common symptoms in Achilles tendinopathy. These symptoms typically get worsen during activity.
Research shows shockwave therapy to be an effective modality in the treatment of this condition, particularly when combined with a rehabilitation approach which incorporates graduated loading and strengthening of the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
Patella tendonopathy, also known as jumper’s knee, is pain at the front of the knee, just below the kneecap, originating from the patella tendon.
The patellar tendon begins (or originates) on the patella (kneecap) and travels down the front of the knee to insert on the top of the shin bone, called the tibial tubercle. When the thigh’s quadriceps muscles contract, the patellar tendon is pulled, which in turn straightens the knee and extends the leg.
Overuse or a sudden stress on the patellar tendon (such as a heavy or awkward landing) can cause inflammation or tears in the tendon tissue. This may cause pain, swelling, and discomfort, particularly during jumping, running, and other athletic activities.
Shockwave therapy is shown to produce significant reduction in pain and improvement in function in the treatment of this condition.
Osgood-Schlatter Disease is a condition affecting the growth plate at the top of the shinbone, with localised swelling and pain. It is a common cause of anterior knee pain in growing adolescents. Shockwave therapy treatment has shown to be effective in reducing the pain associated with this condition.
Lateral Thigh Pain
Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS) is a common cause of lateral hip pain, most commonly affecting female patients aged 40–60, and which can have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life. Classically, GTPS has been attributed to the trochanteric bursitis but more recent studies suggest that this condition involves degeneration, and/or tearing of the gluteal tendons. Conservative management include non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug, physiotherapy, and corticosteroid injection.
Shockwave therapy alongside a structured rehabilitation programme has been shown to have a significant improvement in patient’s levels of pain in research studies.
Hamstring Origin Pain
Chronic proximal hamstring tendinopathy is becoming more recognised as a causative factor in both sitting and activity-related posterior hip pain. People who complain of deep buttock pain, pain when sitting, running or biking, or deep posterior upper thigh pain may suffer from high proximal hamstring tendinopathy.
A randomised controlled trial in 2011 compared Shockwave to anti-inflammatory drugs, physiotherapy and a hamstring-strengthening program. 85% of patients in the Shockwave group showed at least a 50% reduction in pain 3 months post-treatment.
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) is generally known as ‘shin splints’. Its cause is multifactorial but we know it’s one of the most common causes of exertional leg pain in the athletic population. It results in inflammation of the periost around the tibia (shin bone).
A systematic review in 2013 observed a multitude of modalities in the treatment of MTSS. Shockwave therapy was the most effective treatment for MTSS of all the studies critiqued.
While Shockwave is suitable for a large number of conditions both evidenced and experimental with minimal side effects, there are some conditions, also known as contraindications that means Shockwave is not an option.
Shockwave is unsuitable in the following circumstances:
- If you are pregnant
- If you have a blood clotting disorder (including thrombosis)
- If you are taking oral anti-coagulants
- If you have received a Steroid injection within 6 weeks
- If you have a Pacemaker fitted
- If tumours are present at the treatment site
- If you have an infection or skin abrasion at the treatment site
This list is of course not exhaustive, and an assessment by a practitioner is always necessary. We know from experience there are certain treatments, conditions and individual histories that are likely respond better or worse to Shockwave, however in every assessment we look at the safety first.
If you are not sure if shockwave therapy is indicated or contraindicated for your problem, contact us on the number below, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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