Whether you’ve been injured from a sports activity or just from the wear and tear of daily living, Shockwave therapy may have something to offer you in the way of relief. In the years since I’ve begun offering Shockwave therapy to my patients in Vancouver, I have become a big fan of this healing treatment.
In a nutshell, Shockwave therapy is a device that delivers pulsed acoustic waves, or sound waves, to an area for the purpose of healing. It works by breaking down scar tissue, increasing the circulation of healing nutrients to the area, and stimulating cellular metabolism to regenerate and heal damaged tissue. And it works really well to reduce pain.
Also called Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, or ESWT, Shockwave treatments can be effective for a wide variety of conditions. Some of the most common conditions that respond well to Shockwave therapy include:
The most common cause of heel pain that I see, plantar fasciitis involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of connective tissue, called the plantar fascia. It runs from front to back across the bottom of your foot, and connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. Plantar fasciitis is caused by tension on the fascia, which causes small tears that cause it to become inflamed, irritated and painful. Because Shockwave therapy is effective in treating connective tissue, I’ve been using in the clinic to treat plantar fasciitis with great results. In fact, researchers studying patients with plantar fasciitis caused by a calcaneal spur found that Shockwave therapy treatments increased thickness in the fascia, decreased pain and increased function significantly.
Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow
Both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are a kind of tendonopathy of the elbow. Tennis elbow involves inflammation or the degradation of the tendons on the outside of your arm at the elbow. Golfer’s elbow involves a similar condition, but in the tendons on the inside of your elbow. Tendon problems can be difficult to treat and can take a long time to heal. The good news is that because Shockwave therapy penetrates deep into all kinds of tissue, it’s can be effectively used for tendon-related conditions. Essentially, the short bursts of acoustic waves are able to penetrate deep into the tendons to stimulate cellular turnover that speeds up healing.
There are a number of kinds of muscle pain, including sore muscles from a hard workout, muscle strain or injury and myofascial pain. Myofascial pain syndrome is a condition of pain and inflammation of your body’s muscles and the fascia (the soft tissue that encases your muscles). This condition can be triggered by an injury, repetitive movement and even lack of movement, such as when an injured limb is immobilized. Fibromyalgia is also a chronic condition that involves muscle pain, however it is also accompanied by one or more other symptoms, such as fatigue, memory issues, sleep problems and mood issues. These chronic muscle pain conditions often involve tender or painful trigger points. However, a number of research studies have concluded that Shockwave therapy can be effective in reducing pain and even increasing function.
Low Back Pain
It’s the rare person who has never experienced lower back pain. For some people, however, lower back pain can become chronic, lasting for months or years and leading to loss of function and disability. Furthermore, there are a number of underlying causes of pain affecting the lower back, including nerve, bone, tendon, ligament and muscular issues. Fortunately, health care providers have another tool to add to their healing resources when it comes to low back pain—Shockwave therapy. The acoustic waves that carry energy through the affected tissues have a number of healing effects, including pain reduction, increased circulation, increased cellular turnover and the ability to reduce calcium deposits in bony structures. Its effectiveness is supported by research studies that have documented that the combined effects of Shockwave therapy make it a great healing tool for lower back pain.
Your bursae are fluid filled sacs that surround your joints. They protect your joints from injury and act as a shock absorber. Injuries, inflammation and infection in a bursa, a condition called bursitis, can be extremely painful and cause loss of function in the joint. Because of its ability to penetrate deep into injured tissues, Shockwave therapy can be both a safe and effective treatment for bursitis. In fact, scientists studying the effects of Shockwave therapy on greater trochanteric hip bursitis found that patients receiving Shockwave therapy combined with an exercise program experienced a success rate of 86% in measuring reduced pain and improved function, even two months after treatment.
Frozen shoulder is unique among joint conditions because it involves a progression of stages before the shoulder can heal. It involves painful freezing and immobilization of the joint capsule of your shoulder. Each stage; freezing, frozen and thawing (or healing) can take weeks, months and for some, even years. The first stage in which the shoulder joint begins to freeze can be very painful and once the shoulder has frozen, the pain may decrease, but loss of movement and function is prominent. Over time, the shoulder eventually will thaw and regain movement, but it takes time. However, researchers have found that frozen shoulder patients treated with Shockwave therapy showed greater movement in their shoulder than those patients who didn’t receive the treatments. Patients who received Shockwave therapy reported greater flexion, extension, abduction and external rotation of their shoulders. The upshot is that Shockwave therapy provides a positive effect, a faster return to function and promotes better quality of life for patients suffering from frozen shoulder.
The benefits of Shockwave therapy are many. It can be used in conjunction with other treatment modalities, such as acupuncture and cold laser therapy, it’s safe, its effect penetrates deep into your body’s tissues and it can be effective on bone, connective tissue and soft tissue conditions. If you’d like to know more or find out if it’s right for you, please contact us or book a free Shockwave Therapy consult here.