How does Shock Wave Therapy promote healing?

Shock Wave Therapy is also known as Acoustic Wave Therapy and Extra-Corporeal Shock Wave Therapy ESWT.

Shockwave therapy use sound waves to stimulate the body’s immune system and regenerative mechanism in healing damaged tissues and releasing contracted stiffened and shortened muscle tissue.

Shockwave therapy is widely used in elite sporting clubs, in horse racing and in other fields such as vascular therapy and wound healing.

Shock Wave Therapy is a totally non-invasive therapy. Shock Wave technology effectively stimulates the body’s intrinsic repair mechanisms to restore normal tissue and heal injured tissue.

Re-vascularisation occurs in the target tissues, producing new blood vessels which improves blood flow and removal of waste products. Shock Wave therapy essentially turns a chronic injury into an acute injury by its action on damaged tissue. The collagen in the damaged tissue gradually regenerates and the damaged area eventually heals. In other words, Shock Wave Therapy is all about activating the body’s self-healing abilities to regenerate the damaged tissues.

What does Shock Wave Therapy Treat?

Shock Wave therapy can treat the following conditions:

  • Feet – heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis
  • Knee – patellar tendonitis
  • Hip – bursitis
  • Lower Leg – shin splints and tightened calves
  • Upper Leg – Iliotibial band friction syndrome
  • Back Pain – lumbar and chronic muscular pain

Shock Wave Facts and Features

Shock waves are audible high-energy sound waves. In the medical world, Shock waves have been employed since around 1980 in a process called Lithotripsy to disintegrate kidney stones.

In modern musculoskeletal pain therapy, Shock Wave energy is generated by the Shock Wave machine then transmitted via the handpiece and applied to the target the painful injured body regions, where it stimulates the bodies intrinsic healing capabilities to regenerate damaged tissue.

More recently there has been a plethora of new uses discovered for this therapy from, improved wound healing to cartilage regeneration, cellulite reduction and anti -wrinkle facial skin regeneration. This therapy method is used to treat racehorses for their tendon injuries. The uses for this technology continue to be explored.

What can I expect in a Shock Wave treatment session?

Each treatment session lasts approximately 20 – 30 minutes where our Shock Wave Specialists will apply the Shock Wave energy to the target area. This involves positioning the Shock Wave therapy hand piece onto the injured area to allow the unit to gently and extensively transmit shock waves deep into that region. The feedback you provide helps the clinician fine tune the position of the applicator and the intensity of the treatment.


Does Acoustic Wave Therapy hurt?

The Acoustic Wave technology that Podiatry First utilizes does not generally cause any significant pain and there is NO local anaesthetic required. Many patients describe their treatment as “mild sensation”.


Are there any side effects or contraindications?

Shock Wave Therapy should not be used if there is a circulation or nerve disorder, infection, bone tumor, or a metabolic bone condition. Shock Wave Therapy should also not be used if there are any open wounds or tumors or if the patient is pregnant. Patients who are on blood-thinning medications or who have severe circulatory disorders may also not be eligible for treatment.

After the treatment, patients may experience temporary soreness, tenderness or swelling for a few days following the procedure. This temporary inflammation is a wanted effect to recruit the bodies healing process.

Upon completion of your treatment you can return to most regular activities almost immediately although it is advised to rest the injured area for the best healing to take place. Pain or discomfort may persist for a few days following treatment but no serious complications or side effects have been reported.

How many treatments do I need to improve my condition?

Therapy frequency and length of treatment depends on the condition which is being treated. Your Shockwave specialist will be able to provide you with thorough plan of treatment after an assessment.

Does Shockwave therapy really work?

Provided you are a candidate for this type of treatment, clinical studies suggest there is an 90% – 95% success rate for this technology in treating patients with applicable conditions. Scientific research supports the use of ESWT Shockwave therapy in the treatment of tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, calcifications and many other muscular-skeletal conditions.

One of the most important factors for success is being able to identify and select which patients and conditions are most likely to benefit from this technology. Given our experience we believe we can provide you with an accurate assessment on your candidacy for Acoustic Wave Therapy and the likelihood you will see an improvement in your condition.

Literature evidence

  • Rompe et al (2008) Eccentric loading compared with shock wave treatment for chronic insertional achilles tendinopathy. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 90:52-61.
  • Han et al (2009) Effect of extracorporeal shock wave therapy on cultured tenocytes, foot and ankle International. 30:93-98.
  • Furia et al (2007) Extracorporeal shock wave therapy in the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy. Current Opin Orthop, 18:101-111.

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