What Happens During a Shockwave Therapy Session?

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive medical procedure that uses high-energy sound waves to stimulate healing by causing controlled microtrauma to the affected area.

During the shockwave therapy treatment, the physiotherapist will use a device that delivers the waves through the skin, which can help increase blood flow and trigger the body’s natural healing processes by creating microtrauma. It usually takes several sessions to complete one treatment and the sessions don’t require an overnight stay in the medical facility. 

You’ll be asked to sit or lie down in a comfortable position, depending on the location of your injury. Your physiotherapist will apply a special gel to the area being treated. This cool and jelly-like gel helps to transmit the sound waves more effectively and with managing the pain and discomfort from the treatment.

The physiotherapist will then use a shockwave therapy machine with a handheld device to administer the shockwaves to the injured area. The physiotherapist may move the device during the session to target a specific area. If the pain you feel is not tolerable, you should let your physiotherapist know to adjust the wave intensity. 

One session can last between 2-7 minutes, depending on the size and location of the affected area from your condition. You may feel some mild discomfort or soreness in the treated area. This is normal and should go away within a few days. You may need to avoid strenuous activity with the treated area for several days or until the pain goes away.

The exact number of sessions will depend on the severity of your condition and how well you respond to treatment.

Shockwave Therapy Benefits

Shockwave therapy has a high success rate in treating a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, making it a promising treatment option for many patients.

  • Pain relief: Relieves pain in tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and tennis elbow.
  • Faster healing: Promotes the growth of new blood vessels and accelerates the body’s natural healing processes.
  • No downtime: Patients can go back to normal daily activities soon after treatment.
  • Reduced use of medication: Because shockwave therapy reduces pain and promotes the body’s natural healing processes, it reduces patients’ reliance on pain medications.
  • Improved range of motion: Shockwave therapy may help patients to regain lost mobility and improve their range.

Because shockwave therapy is non-invasive, it is a safe and effective alternative for patients who cannot or don’t want to use medications or surgery.

Conditions Treated with Shockwave Therapy 

Shockwave therapy is a versatile treatment option that can be used to address a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions. Still, it may not be appropriate for all cases of a certain condition. Your physiotherapy specialist can evaluate your condition to determine whether shockwave is a suitable treatment option for you.

One of the mechanisms of action of shockwave therapy is that it stimulates the body’s natural healing processes. By delivering high-energy shockwaves to the affected area, shockwave therapy can promote blood flow and the growth of new blood vessels, which can help to repair damaged tissue and reduce inflammation. That is why it is so effective as a universal pain relief in physiotherapy.

Shoulder Pain 

Shockwave therapy can be used to treat a range of shoulder conditions, including rotator cuff injuries, frozen shoulder, and calcific tendonitis.

Knee Pain 

Shockwave therapy can help to reduce pain and promote healing in people with conditions such as patellar tendinopathy (jumper’s knee) and iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS).

Hip Pain 

Shockwave therapy can be used to treat conditions such as trochanteric bursitis and hip osteoarthritis.

Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes, becomes inflamed or damaged. Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include overuse, flat feet, high arches, obesity, and certain types of physical activity. Symptoms include pain in the heel or bottom of the foot, stiffness, and difficulty walking. 

Treatment options may include rest, ice, physical therapy, medications, corticosteroid injections, and shockwave therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.

A shockwave therapy session for plantar fasciitis typically lasts between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the severity of your condition. Many patients respond positively to shockwaves and get better after a few months.

Shockwave Therapy for Low Back Pain 

Shockwave therapy can help to disrupt the cycle of pain by reducing the sensitivity of nerve endings in the affected area, which leads to a reduction in pain and an improved range of motion. Shockwave therapy is used for chronic low back pain that has not responded to other conservative treatment options.

Shockwave Therapy for Tendonitis

Tendonitis, also known as tendinitis, is a condition that occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed and irritated from overuse, repetitive strain, or injury. Shockwave therapy can be an effective treatment option for a variety of types of tendinitis, including Achilles tendinitis and tennis elbow.

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