What is Shockwave Therapy?Darwin Podiatry
What is Shockwave therapy?
A shockwave is a sonic pulse wave that transmits energy into areas of pain – such as soft tissue injuries with acute or chronic conditions. The wave of energy promotes cell regeneration and begins the repairing process of the tendons, muscles, and other tissues within the area. The shockwave is created using compressed air, which hits the metal applicator – this produces pressure waves which travel into the tissue.
Medical Effects of Shockwave Therapy:
Use of shockwave therapy provides pain relief and healing. The following changes occur on a biological level post treatment:
- Stimulation of collagen production: shockwave therapy accelerates procollagen synthesis and the new collagen fibers are forced into a longitudinal structure – this causes the formed fibers to be more dense and stiff, which created a firmer structure within the area
- Release of trigger points: trigger points are palpable nodules found within muscle fibers. The muscle fibers become extremely tight and contracted, which cuts off the blood supply to the nodule. This causes waste product to build up within the area which irritates the nerve endings in the nodule. This irritation causes even more contraction, and the cycle continues. Releasing the trigger points allows blood return to the nodule area, and waste products are expelled through the lymph system. The muscle fibers reduce in contraction and pain relief occurs.
- New blood vessel formation: blood flow is necessary to begin the repair process to damaged tissue. The acoustic shockwaves create tiny capillary ruptures within the tendon/bone. As a result of this, the blood vessels are remodeled and are stimulated to grow. The newly grown blood vessels improve blood supply and oxygen to the treated area which supports faster healing.
- Reduction and reversal of chronic inflammation: Mast cells are one of the key components in the inflammatory process. The shockwaves activate the mast cells, which in turn enhances the inflammatory process and then helps restore normal healing and regeneration.
- Reduction of substance P: Substance P is a pain mediator- its job is to relay pain signals through our central nervous system. Shockwave therapy works to reduce the concentration of substance P within the area of pain, thus triggering pain relief.
- Mid-late stage tendinopathy
- Insertional tendinopathies (Achilles)
- Medial tibial stress syndrome
- Calcified tendinopathies
- Plantar fasciitis
- Knee Pain
Shockwave is uncomfortable during treatment – there is no denying this. However, due to the analgesic properties it stimulates, shockwave works to induce pain relief. Pain reduction is noted over the 24 hours post treatment; with a further reduction noted 48-72 hours post treatment. Often, pain can return a little prior to the next shockwave session. However, most patients note a long-term pain reduction and overall full resolution of pain with time. This graph is a visual representation of the pain relief shockwave can provide. Whilst there will be an overall decrease in pain as the weeks of treatment progress, there will be singular days where the pain does increase.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
The number of treatments is dependent on the pathology being treated and the response of the tissue after treatment. The treatment effect is cumulative – this means you will need more than one treatment (generally 3-5), however you usually begin to experience pain relief after the initial treatment.
Shockwave is used in conjunction with other conservative treatment methods such as strength training, footwear changes, orthotic therapy, strapping, and activity modification.
If you would like a consult on the benefits of shockwave and what it might mean for your treatment plan, call 8941 9955 today to book an appointment with our team.