Don’t Miss the Wave… How Shockwave Therapy is an Effective Treatment for Chronic Musculoskeletal Conditions

May10th 2018

Shockwave Therapy?

You’ve had Achilles pain for 4 months now and it just hasn’t improved. You tried icing, some stretches you found on the internet, new orthotics, and rest but as soon as you’re on your feet that darn Achilles just aches!

Sound familiar? Maybe it isn’t your Achilles but instead plantar heel pain, jumper’s knee, or tennis elbow?

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is a highly effective and safe modality that can be included as an important part of your physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment.

What is Shockwave Therapy?

The most common comment I hear from patients when I mention shockwave is “Oh yeah, I’ve had that on before. It’s a coupling electrode that has an electric current pass through them, right?”. Well – no, that is definitely not shockwave. Shockwave therapy originated with lithotripsy treatment of kidney stones where high-intensity ultrasound shockwaves are used to break kidney stones and other calculus into small particles that can be passed out of the body. Over time, this large technology was scaled down for the treatment of musculoskeletal problems.

Shockwave therapy uses high-energy shock waves to treat chronic, painful conditions of the musculoskeletal system. Each shockwave treatment works to stimulate the body’s natural healing process around the site of pain or discomfort. Healing occurs over several treatments by initiating an inflammatory process and increased blood supply to the area. The shockwaves are transmitted into the body and increased metabolic activity occurs around the area of pain.

Conditions treated by shockwave therapy

  • Plantar heel pain
  • Achillodynia (Achilles tendonitis)
  • Jumper’s knee (patellar tendonitis)
  • Lateral and medial epicondylalgia (tennis and golfer’s elbow)
  • Rotator cuff tendinopathies
  • ITB friction syndrome
  • Trigger points in muscles

Does it hurt?

Shockwave therapy can be uncomfortable. The treatment intensity is set based on the patient’s tolerance and it is typically well tolerated. There may be residual discomfort after treatment for 24-48 hours. Since a mild inflammatory response is anticipated, patients are encouraged to refrain from using ice or anti-inflammatory medications during treatment. Moist heat and Tylenol are acceptable.

How many treatments will I need?

The majority of the above conditions can be treated with 5 shockwave sessions, scheduled about once weekly. Muscular trigger points can require closer to 10 treatments and can be scheduled twice weekly. Following your last treatment, it is normal to not feel 100% better, however, a large improvement is expected.

Do I only receive shockwave at each treatment?

No. Shockwave therapy is used as one part of your physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment. Your treatment will also include interventions such as manual therapy, functional exercises, dry needling, and taping depending on your therapist’s assessment findings and treatment plan.

Think shockwave therapy might be the answer to some of your aches and pains? Give Peach Physiotherapy in Chatham-Kent, Ontario a call at 519-358-7342 to schedule your 60-minute 1-on-1 assessment to find out how we can help.