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How Shockwave Treatment Works

How Shockwave Treatment Works
How Shockwave Treatment Works

How Does Shockwave Treatment Work?

The basic principles of shockwave treatment is that it is thought to work by the high pressured acoustic shockwaves traveling through the skin inducing microtrauma to the injured tissue. This microtrauma stimulates a healing response by the body. This healing response causes blood vessel formation, improved metabolism, increased delivery of nutrients to the affected area activating cell generation and where appropriate also helps dissolve calcium deposits.

What Are The Benefits Of Shockwave Treatment?

Shockwave therapy is frequently recommended as a non-invasive last resort therapy prior to surgery. Beyond no surgery, no hospital admission, and no medication other benefits of shockwave therapy are:

  • An effective therapy with quick results, generally requiring only 3-6 treatments.
  • Frequently rapid pain reduction, improved mobility and functionality.
  • Shockwave treatment stimulates your body’s own healing ability.
  • When used appropriately there are minimal potential side effects.

What Are The Precautions Regarding Shockwave Treatment?

It is a reasonable option to consider shockwave therapy for a number of musculoskeletal conditions and the potential side effects are minimal. However if you intend to be considered for shockwave therapy please inform Sydney Physio Clinic if you have one of the following conditions as shockwave therapy may not be appropriate for you:

  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Tumour in or around the treatment area
  • Skin wound or acute inflammation in treatment area
  • Rupture or significant tear of the tissue or tissues in the treatment area
  • Heart or circulatory problems
  • Bleeding and blood coagulation disorders and taking associated medication
  • Cortisone injections in the area within one month prior to treatment

What Is The Evidence Regarding Shockwave Treatment?

The benefits of Shockwave Therapy can be found in numerous well regarded publications including the American Journal of Sports Medicine and the Journal of Orthopaedics. The reports in the literature are variable some suggesting as effective as 90% success rate for Plantar Fasciitis (Journal of Orthopedic Research 2003) and 91% success rate for Calcific Rotator Cuff Tendinosis (Journal of the American Medical Association 2005). However not all patients will be pain free after shockwave therapy, generally the current recommendations for shockwave therapy are that it is a safe treatment for patients who have failed conservative measures and it is often suggested that patients try more traditional treatments for a period of 6 months to a year before considering shock wave therapy. However at Sydney Physio Clinic we realise every individual and their complaint is different and assessment to an patients appropriateness for shockwave treatment is gauged on the individual circumstances not exclusively on the duration or symptoms and or failure to previous treatment.
Some other research supporting the use of Shockwave therapy includes:

  1. Rompe, JD, et al. “Low-energy extracorporeal shockwave therapy for painful heel: a prospective controlled single-blind study.” Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 1998;115:75-9.
  2. Rompe, JD, et al. “Evaluation of low-energy extracorporeal shock-wave application for treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis.” Jour Bone Joint Surg. 2002;84:335-41.
  3. Haake, M, et al. “Extracorporeal shock wave therapy for plantar fasciitis: randomized controlled multicentre trial.” Brit Med Jour. 2003;327(7406):75.
  4. Rompe, JD; Radial Shock Wave Therapy- Where do we stand today?; Translation from Medical Special, Apr 2006
  5. Furia et al 2007, Extracorporeal shock wave therapy in the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy, Current Opin Orthop 2007; 18: 101- 111
  6. Rompe et al 2008, Eccentric Loading Compared with Shock Wave treatment for Chronic Insertional Achilles Tendinopathy, J Bone Joint Surg Am 2008; 90: 52-61
  7. Han et al 2009, Effect of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy on Cultured Tenocytes, Foot and Ankle International, 30: 93-98

Think Shockwave Treatment May Be Right For You?

If your aches and pains are longstanding, reoccurring or not fully resolved then shockwave treatment may be right for you. If you think shockwave therapy could benefit you then call Sydney Physio Clinic a centrally located CBD physio practice in the centre of Sydney and we will arrange you an assessment and treatment session.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific medical advice or assistance on How Shockwave Treatment Works should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist, orthopaedic surgeon or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.


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