What is Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave therapy is a medical treatment primarily used for chronic tendon disorders such as tennis elbow or Achilles tendinopathy. The technology stems from lithotripsy, which is a non-invasive treatment first developed to treat kidney stones.
A shockwave is a mechanical sound wave that initiates a pro-inflammatory response in the tissue that is being treated. The body responds by increasing blood flow and metabolism in the area being treated which stimulates and enhances the body’s healing capacity. The shockwaves also break down injured tissue and calcifications, just like lithotripsy breaks down kidney stones.
What common conditions can be treated with Shockwave Therapy?
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints)
- Patella tendinopathy
- Hamstring tendinopathy
- Greater trochanteric syndrome (hip pain)
- Tennis elbow
- Golfers elbow
- Calcified shoulder tendinopathy
What are the advantages of Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave therapy offers two main advantages over surgical intervention – fewer potential complications and faster return to normal activity.
The benefits of Shockwave Therapy include:
- No anaesthesia
- No medication
- No surgery
- Rapid treatment -15 minutes per session
- Low complication rate
- Significant improvement is often seen 6 weeks after treatment
How does Shockwave Therapy work?
The shockwaves are delivered to the injured tissue via a compressed air impulse administered by a handpiece held by the clinician. Typically, no more than 3 sessions are needed to see a benefit. No anesthetic is required and you can continue usual activities, however, it is recommended to avoid pain aggravating factors as best as possible for 48 hours following each treatment session.
What is the success rate of Shockwave Therapy?
Clinical evidence demonstrates an overall success rate to 77% of chronic conditions that have not resolved with other previous treatments. Whilst we expect positive clinical outcomes there is a chance that the treatment may not improve your symptoms. A review at 6 and 12 weeks post-treatment is recommended. If at this stage your symptoms have not resolved you will be advised on alternative treatment options or your clinician may recommend diagnostic tests to understand why your pain hasn’t resolved.
Is the treatment painful?
The inherent nature of Shockwave Therapy means there will be some discomfort during treatment, however, most people can manage their treatment session without any medication. Your clinician will constantly ask for your feedback to make adjustments that can help manage your discomfort. It is important to note that having some pain during treatment indicates that the shockwaves are having a positive effect.
Will I be in pain after treatment?
In most cases, you will experience a reduced pain level immediately after treatment which can last for up to 48 hours. However, in some cases, you may experience mild and diffused pain immediately after treatment which can last up to 48 hours. Each person responds differently and it is not possible to predict which reaction you will have.
What shall I do if I am in pain after treatment?
If necessary you can take over-the-counter pain killers. It is important that you do not take anti-inflammatory medication as this may interfere with the effectiveness of the Shockwave treatment.
What precautions should I be aware of?
- Cortisone injections are not to be administered within the last 12 weeks prior to shockwave therapy treatment. Sometimes they may be some bruising and swelling.
- If you take warfarin or other anticoagulant therapy please notify your clinician
- If you have a cardiac pacemaker please notify your clinician prior to treatment as shockwave therapy may interfere with this.
- If you have been diagnosed with cancer you should notify your clinician, as treatment should not be administered.
- If you are pregnant please notify your clinician, as treatment should not be administered
We are proud to be one of the few clinics that offer this highly effective treatment. If you’d like to learn more about Shockwave Therapy or get booked in for a consultation with one of our Physiotherapists, please call our friendly team on 01380 730473.