Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is currently being used in clinics around the world. Although the name tends to make you turn your head in fear, the benefits of this therapy far out way the fear factor.
What is shockwave therapy?
Shockwave Therapy is a specific modality, or treatment method used to treat several chronic injuries such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and muscle strains.
How does shockwave therapy work?
Shockwave therapy treatment involves creating a series of acoustic wave pulsations that are directly applied to the site of the painful area through a person’s skin via a gel medium. The acoustic waves generated by the shockwave machine trigger biological effects such as increasing blood flow to the affected area which leads to faster and long-term healing as well as regeneration of tissue. Shockwave therapy will feel like strong and rapid, high frequency mechanical vibration in the form of a Radial Pressure Wave (RPW).
What is shockwave used for?
Through high-quality randomized control trials, Shockwave Therapy is proven to be an effective treatment option for any chronic musculoskeletal tendon and connective tissue pathologies. However, in some instances it can be used for non chronic conditions as well. The main goal is to help advise the body to focus healing attention on the area that you are treating. Although Shockwave seems like it can be helpful for many different conditions, there are a few that it actually has been proven to help best. The following are among the best examples, but are not limited to, of conditions with a higher success rate in a pain free outcome:
- Plantar fasciitis (with or without heel spurs)
- Tennis and Golfer’s elbow
- TMJ/Jaw pain
- Knee pain
- Neck and back pain (chronic)
- Shoulder pain
What are the benefits of shockwave?
- Vascular changes: Shockwave therapy increases and redirects blood flow to the affected area which results in faster tissue healing and regeneration
- Decreased muscle spasticity
- Reduced pain
- Increased mobility
When we look at chronic conditions specifically, the injury or condition may need a treatment that is more aggressive. Introducing Shockwave Therapy allows the body to have a quick “jump” start to the normal healing process.
My doctor told me Shockwave may help, why is that?
In most cases, your doctor wants you to be able to have access to many different avenues of treatment. However, not all treatment methods are used for every case. For example, some patients who complain of chronic ongoing heel pain may find the best treatment for them is new orthotics. Others may not find as much relief with a one-step process. Combined with massage and hands-on manual therapy, usually done by a physiotherapist, Shockwave Therapy has been known to rapidly reduce pain and discomfort in just a few visits.
Frequently asked questions:
Is Shockwave Therapy painful?
With the word “Shock” we automatically assume that this would be very painful. That is typically not the case for patients who receive Shockwave Therapy. For the treatment to be most affective, there may be a small bit of discomfort and numbness over the area that is being treated. Most patients will notice the sound which is audible from the machine, over the pain that the treatment may cause. To notice a small amount of discomfort along with area being treated is completely normal, and should subside quite quickly.
How many sessions would I need to come for?
Every patient is different, as well as the area they are needing treated. Therefore, there is not an exact number of sessions that every patient will follow. However, studies have shown that for optimal recovery time and best results, 3-5 treatments are recommended by the healthcare professional administering the therapy. The healing process can continue even up to 12 weeks post initial treatment, so a lighter activity level is recommended after each visit.
Is Shockwave covered under my extended health insurance plan?
Shockwave Therapy in some clinics is a treatment method done on its own and can become quite costly when attending an average of 3 visits and more. The good news though, is that most extended health insurance companies will cover this treatment under physiotherapy. How much coverage is all dependent on your insurance company you are using.