WHAT IS SHOCKWAVE THERAPY?
Shockwave therapy is a non-surgical treatment, and works by delivering impulses of energy, targeted to specific damaged tissues, within an inflamed tendon. Its been shown to be most effective in assisting with the treatment of chronic conditions. One of the strongest arguments for the use of Shockwave Therapy is that it effectively takes a tissue (tendon, muscle, ligament) from a chronic to a more acute state, and in doing so, provides a trigger to restart a ‘stalled’ repair sequence and therefore promote the healing of the tendon. The ‘shockwaves’ stimulate blood flow within the affected area, consequently stimulating cell regeneration and healing, and decreasing the pain response in the area in the short term.
HOW IS IT CARRIED OUT?
A probe is pressed on to the affected area and the shockwaves are delivered through the skin in a similar way to having an ultrasound scan. The impulses are delivered through the skin as a shockwave that spreads inside the injured tissue in a wave like motion. These waves initiate an inflammation-like response in the injured tissue that is being treated, and prompts the body to respond naturally by increasing blood circulation and therefore promote healing in the injured tissue. It does this by:
- Creating mechanical stimulation from the shockwave itself emitted from a probe
- The motion created deep in the tissues increases local blood flow
- This increases cellular activity & triggers the inflammatory process within the affected area
- It reduces pain by creating a local numbing effect which a transient analgesic effect on afferent nerves taking pain signals to the brain
- And finally it begins to break down calcific deposits within the tendons (which create pain and discomfort)
The shockwaves are felt as pulses which are a little uncomfortable but not painful. Typically your first treatment will start with a low level of intensity and increase this to a point where you feel comfortable. Treatments are usually performed at weekly intervals. Each treatment session takes about 20 minutes and you may need between 3 treatment sessions (possibly 5 for resistant problems).
HISTORY OF SHOCKWAVE THERAPY
Since the early 1970’s Shock waves have been used as a non invasive treatment for kidney stones and has since become a first line treatment for such conditions.
WHICH CONDITIONS RESPOND WELL TO SHOCKWAVE THERAPY?
Shockwave therapy is most often successful in treating chronic conditions due to its ability to re-stimulate the acute inflammatory phase of healing. K. Storheim et al (2010) found that shock wave treatment created positive effects on chronic Rotator Cuff Tendinopathies, Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendinopathy, Patellar Tendinopathy, Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow (medial and lateral epicondylitis).
Like all physiotherapy interventions, each person responds differently to different treatments. Shock wave therapy is another tool we at Bradley Physio have access to in order to provide our customers with the best treatment possible, a variety of other treatment techniques are also used and may be used alongside shockwave therapy, such as, deep friction massage, exercise (particularly eccentric exercise).
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