Shockwave Therapy is an excellent integrative approach to pain which yields great results in clinical practice. Most patients with chronic pain issues have been through various unsuccessful treatments, whether this be prescription medications or other therapies. This being said, as many as 80% of the same patients worldwide report that Shockwave Therapy has helped them eliminate their pain problems. 80% patient satisfaction in relieving chronic pain issues is quite an impressive feat.
This therapy works by introducing high-energy acoustic sound waves to painful areas and triggering therapeutic biological reactions in the body which reduce pain and stimulate healing. As Shockwaves deliver energy to painful musculoskeletal tissues, they promote regeneration and reparative processes of the bones, tendons and other soft tissues. Shockwave Therapy is one of the most advanced and effective non-invasive treatment methods for pain cleared by the FDA and government of Canada.
Shockwave therapy can be used to treat a wide variety of pain conditions and improve patient quality of life. Beneficial effects are often experienced after only 1 or 2 treatments, with many conditions requiring around 3-5 treatments for complete healing.
Medical Effects of ShockWave therapy
Acoustic sound waves with high energy peak used in Shockwave Therapies are able to interact with tissue causing positive medical effects, such as accelerated tissue repair and cell growth, mobility restoration, and analgesia. The therapeutic effects to be examined are typically received simultaneously during treatment.
New Blood Vessel Formation
Adequate blood flow is required to stimulate and maintain the repair processes of damaged tissue structures. Without sufficient blood flow critical oxygen and healing factors, such as nutrients, are unable to saturate the injured area and facilitate restoration. The introduction of acoustic waves to the body creates capillary micro- ruptures (tiny tears) in tendon and bone. These tiny micro-ruptures in turn trigger the area to produce an increased amount of growth factors such as VEGF, eNOS, PCNS and BMP. This increased supply of growth factors allows for existing blood vessels to be remodeled and repaired, and completely new blood vessels to be formed. New blood vessels improve blood supply and oxygenation to the treated area which supports faster healing.
Reversal of Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation occurs when the body’s inflammatory response is not appropriately halted. This can lead to the damage of healthy tissues and result in chronic pain conditions. A fundamental component of appropriate inflammatory response is the production of Mast Cells. Using pervasive acoustic soundwaves on the body is able to increase the activity of Mast cells, which results in the production of chemokines and cytokines. These are pro-inflammatory compounds which initially enhance the inflammatory process and then work to halt the runaway inflammatory response and restore normal healing.
Stimulation of Collagen Production
Producing sufficient amounts of collagen is a necessary precondition for the facilitation of repair processes involving damaged musculoskeletal tissues and ligament structures. Shockwave therapy is able to accelerate procollagen synthesis. The newly created collagen fibers are forced into a special structure which makes newly formed tendon fibers more robust and firm.
Reduction of Calcified Fibroblasts
Quite often calcium build-ups occur as a result of micro-tears or trauma to a tendon and can prevent proper healing. Acoustic Shockwaves are able to break up existing calcifications into tiny particles and help treat the damaged tendon. The tiny particles of calcium are removed from the affected area and disposed of by the lymphatic system.
Reduces Pain Signaling to the Central Nervous System
“Substance P” is a neurotransmitter which communicates pain information throughout the body. The presence of this neuropeptide is often associated with intense, persistent, and chronic feelings of pain. It is critical in relaying pain messages to the central nervous system which can be a useful thing, but not for chronic pain sufferers. Lowering the concentration of Substance P in an area is able to reduce pain by limiting the stimulation of afferent nociceptive fibers. The acoustic waves generated by Shockwave therapy are an effective means for lowering Substance P concentrations and thus has an analgesic effect (relieves pain).
Releases ‘Trigger Points’
‘Trigger Points’ are often the primary cause of pain felt in the back, neck, shoulders, and limbs. A trigger point is associated with physical nodules in tight bands of muscle fibers and they have severely contracted sarcomeres. The muscle tissue contracts so tightly that this begins to cut off blood supply to the area, which causes waste products and toxins to build up. This further irritates the sensory nerve ending in the muscle tissue and causes even more contraction. The result is a vicious cycle which continuously reduces blood supply, increase irritation, and causes pain. Shockwave therapy is able to use Acoustic waves to release these painful trigger points and bring an end to the vicious cycle.
Who Can Benefit From Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave Therapy has positive patient outcomes for a large number of pain and mobility conditions. Whether you have suffered an acute injury and want to ensure speedy and effective healing, or are suffering from a more chronic condition such as persistent neck, back, or joint pain which requires relief, Shockwave Treatment can be an excellent non-invasive therapy.
List of common conditions treated by Shockwave Therapy
- Stress Fractures
- Knee Pain
- Elbow Pain (Tennis Elbow)
- Shoulder Pain (Shoulder Calcifications)
- Shin Splints
- Plantar Fasciitis (HeelPain/Heel Spur)
- Achilles Tendon Pain
- Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)
- Myofascial Trigger points
- Chronic Neck and Back Pain
- Sprains and Strains
- Release of Trigger Points
- Non-Healing Ulcers
- Scar Tissue Treatment
- Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
- Hip Pain
- Insertional Pain
- Tendon Injuries
- Hamstring Issues
- Frozen Shoulder Wrist Pain Sports Injuries And more
What is it like to Receive Shockwave Therapy?
The Treatment Procedure
Shockwave Therapy involves a simple 3 step procedure. First, the technician detects the area to be treated using palpitation in order to deliver the therapy precisely to the painful location. Next, a layer of lubricating gel is applied to the affected area. This gel application is necessary to transfer the acoustic waves efficiently and smoothly into the body. Finally, the technician gently applies the Shockwave applicator to the affected area and allows the acoustic waves to penetrate the skin.
How many Treatments does a Patient Require?
The number of treatments varies depending on the condition being addressed and the patient’s tissue response. The effect of the treatment is thought to be cumulative, so one will typically need more than one treatment. Most conditions benefit from 3-5 treatment sessions which are staggered 3-10 days apart, depending on the patient’s tolerance and tissue response. Pain relief is often experienced after the first treatment.
Is the Treatment Painful?
It is possible to experience a slight feeling of discomfort during the treatment, depending on the level of pain the patient is already experiencing in the affected area. This being said, the treatment time for each affected area is usually around 5 minutes and patient’s do not find it very difficult to handle the slight discomfort. Furthermore, the technician is able to adjust the intensity of the treatment should there be any discomfort. Most patients will experience an immediate relief in pain directly following the procedure. Some patients may experience soreness in the treated are 2-4 hours following treatment. This soreness is generally reported as tolerable and subsides fairly quickly.
Are there any Restrictions after the Treatment?
Compared to many conventional pain therapies Shockwave therapy requires minimal down-time. Generally, patients are able to bear weight on the affected area immediately. It is recommended that patients refrain from extensive physical activity, especially activity that would involve the treated area, for around 48 hours following each treatment session. This allows the affected area to better facilitate the healing process after therapy.
Is Shockwave Therapy Safe?
Shockwave therapy is an extremely safe treatment modality which has been received by millions of patients all around the world. There are no adverse or dangerous side effects, which make it an excellent choice compared to more invasive treatment methods.