Shockwave Therapy (SWT) is used in physiotherapy for pain reduction, increase in metabolism at cellular level, revascularisation and recovering normal muscle tone following various disorders.
SWT is a non-invasive treatment that involves creating a series of low energy acoustic wave pulsations that are directly applied to an injury through a person’s skin via a gel medium. The concept and technology originally evolved from the discovery that focused sound waves were capable of breaking down kidney and gallstones. Shockwaves have proven successful in a number of scientific studies for the treatment of chronic conditions. SWT is its own treatment for a lingering injury, or pain resulting from illness, the purpose of the therapy is to trigger the body’s own natural healing response. Many people report that their pain is reduced and mobility improved after the first treatment.
SWT is a modality that is becoming more common in physiotherapy. Using a much lower energy than in medical applications, SWT is used in the treatment of many musculoskeletal conditions, primarily those involving connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons.
SWT offers physiotherapists yet another tool for chronic tendinopathy. There are some tendon conditions that just don't seem to respond to traditional forms of treatment, having the option of SWT allows physiotherapists another treatment option. SWT is most suited for people who have chronic tendinopathies which haven't responded to other treatment.
A physiotherapist will assess you at your first visit to confirm that you are an appropriate candidate for SWT. The physiotherapist will ensure you are educated about your condition and what you can do in conjunction with treatment - activity modification, specific exercises, assessing any other contributing issues such as posture, tightness/weakness of other muscle groups. SWT is usually done once a week for 3-6 weeks, depending on results. The treatment itself can cause mild discomfort, but usually only lasts a few minutes, and the intensity can be adjusted to keep it comfortable.
SWT therapy has shown to effectively treat the following conditions:
Feet - heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis
Elbow – tennis and golfers elbow
Shoulder - calcific tendinosis of rotator cuff
Knee - patellar tendonitis
Hip – bursitis
Lower leg - shin splints
Upper leg - Iliotibial band friction syndrome
Back pain - lumbar and cervical spine regions and chronic muscular pain
Some of the benefits of SWT:
Excellent cost/effectiveness ratio
Non-invasive solution for chronic pain
No anaesthesia or drugs required
Limited side effects
New research shows that it can have a positive affect on acute pain
After SWT, you may experience temporary soreness, tenderness or swelling for a few days following the procedure, as the shockwaves stimulate an inflammatory response. This is the body healing itself naturally, so it’s important not to take any anti-inflammatory medication immediately following SWT, which may slow down the results
Upon completion of your treatment you can return to most regular activities almost immediately.
SWT should not be used if there is a circulatory or nerve disorder, infection, bone tumour, or a metabolic bone condition. SWT should also not be used if there are any open wounds or tumours or during pregnancy. People using blood-thinning medications or who have severe circulatory disorders may also not be eligible for treatment.