What is shockwave therapy?
Shockwave therapy, sometimes referred to as extra-corporeal shockwave therapy, is an innovative treatment used to treat persistent pain in tendons (attachments of the muscle to the bone) often referred to as tendinopathies. Shockwave therapy is normally used in conjunction with a strengthening program to increase the tendon strength and reduce pain.
What conditions is shockwave therapy used to treat?
The most common tendinopathies, shockwave therapy is used to treat are the following:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Patellar tendinopathy
- Trochanteric bursitis/gluteal tendinopathy
- Rotator cuff tendinopathy
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer's elbow
How does Shockwave therapy work?
Research suggests that in cases of persistent tendon pain, termed chronic tendinopathy, there may be a failed healing response within the tendon. Treatments are, sometimes aimed at stimulating the tenocyte cells within the tendon to begin to produce new, healthy tendon tissue for this reason.
By placing large mechanical doses of energy in to the affected areas of a painful tendon, shockwave therapy is able to produce micro-inflammation within the tendon and stimulate these tendon cells to produce an effective healing response.
The benefits of an effective healing response within a tendon may lead to many benefits. These include uptake of calcium deposits within the tendon, eliminating or reducing the size of painful blood vessels within the tendon, reducing pain and increasing the tendon’s tensile strength.
What does Shockwave therapy involve?
Shockwave therapy is delivered by a handheld device by our expert orthopaedic surgeons or musculoskeletal doctors or physiotherapists. The device is able to deliver shockwaves through the skin (low energy sound waves). Each procedure normally takes around five minutes.
Depending on the exact nature of the tendinopathy being treated a normal course of treatment involves three treatments at weekly intervals.
Due to the fact that shockwave therapy delivers a mechanical shockwave to already painful tendon/s and is designed to stimulate a mild micro-inflammatory response there are some standard symptoms after each procedure. These include:
- Mild to moderate pain/discomfort during the procedure
- Ongoing local discomfort for up to one week after the procedure
- Mild bruising and swelling for up to one week after the procedure
- Numbness around the treated area for up to one week after the procedure
- A very rare side effect may be rupture to the treated tendon
You will be unable to undergo shockwave therapy if you are pregnant, have an infection, are taking blood thinning medication, have had a recent steroid injection to the same area.