Shockwave therapy is a multidisciplinary device used in orthopaedics, physiotherapy, sports medicine and urology. It is a treatment method in which an applicator is used to direct radial “shockwaves” on the part of the body that needs to be treated.
What is it applicable for?
Shockwave therapy is a treatment used for a wide variety of complaints, which is divided into 5 categories;
- Tendons – the most common tendon complaints that can be treated are painful Achilles tendons, patellar tendons, supraspinatus and lateral (tennis) elbow.
- Elbows – common bone pathologies are medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints) and are greater trochanteric pain syndrome.
- Neurological Disorders – radial shockwave therapy is successful for muscle treatment of spasticity, both in adults with hemiplegia and children with cerebral palsy.
- Muscles – treatment of trigger points, muscle pain and muscle hypertonia.
5. Connective Tissue – known applications for shockwave therapy are plantar fasciopathy, trigger finger and scar tissue.
How it works;
Once the physiotherapist has determined where the complaint originates, and that shockwave therapy is the correct treatment method to be used, some gel is applied to the painful area. Then the Shockwave device is used. The handpiece contains a fast-moving projectile controlled by a compressor.
The projectile transmits energy to the applicator to generate the radial shockwaves, which then spread through and are absorbed by the body.
The shockwaves reduce pain partly through the creation of substance P and the hyperstimulation of pain sensors. The body itself regenerates the affected tissues, resulting in the following effects;
- Improved blood flow and neovascularization
- Increased growth factors
- More mesenchymal stem cells
- Stimulation of the metabolism
Shockwave therapy can also reduce calcification and fibrosis. The treatment is short term, but patients may experience some sensitivity.
Treatment usually only lasts for around 8-10 minutes. It is always combined with training, manual therapy or other physiotherapy techniques during treatment in the practice, and/or exercises the patient is given to do at home.
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