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Shockwave Therapy for Acute and Chronic Pain

Sports and soft tissue injuries can cause a great deal of suffering. The pain can be severe and debilitating, making it hard to exercise or do the things you enjoy. Regular pain medication may not be effective and can cause side effects. In some cases, surgery may be the only option, which is risky and can lead to further complications. These conditions can have a profound impact on your quality of life, causing stress and upset. It is important to explore all available treatment options with your doctor in order to find the best possible solution for you.


Shockwave therapy is a cutting-edge, non-invasive treatment for pain in the bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Using high-frequency sound waves, shockwave therapy targets specific areas of pain and provides significant or total relief for most patients. The procedure is quick and easy and can be done on an outpatient basis with no need for anesthesia or recovery time. Shockwave therapy is safe and effective for a wide range of conditions, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and shoulder impingement syndrome. If you are suffering from chronic pain, shockwave therapy may be an ideal solution for you.


What is shockwave therapy?

Shockwave therapy is also known as Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) or Radial Shockwave Therapy (RSWT). The use of shockwave therapy to treat painful musculoskeletal conditions is a relatively new development, but the therapy itself is not new. Shockwave therapy was originally developed in the late 1990s to help urologists treat kidney stones non-invasively. Since then, it has been successfully used to help treat many different conditions, such as heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy.


Multiple scientific papers have found that shockwave therapy is an effective treatment for these and other conditions. While more research is needed to determine the long-term efficacy of this therapy, the initial results are promising and suggest that shockwave therapy could help many people find relief from pain.


There are no known side effects to having shockwave therapy. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE, who give guidance, advice and information to healthcare professionals, approves the use of shockwave therapy for musculoskeletal pain relief in clinic and hospital settings in the United States

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What conditions is shockwave therapy used for?

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses high-energy sound waves to target painful areas of the body. The sound waves create pressure that stimulates the healing process by increasing blood flow and breaking up scar tissue. Shockwave therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for several conditions, including soft tissue injuries, joint problems, and bone disorders. The therapy can also help to improve range of motion and reduce pain and inflammation and can help those with sports or overuse injuries.


In addition, shockwave therapy is often used in conjunction with physiotherapy to speed up the rehabilitation process. Whether you are suffering from a recent injury or chronic pain, shockwave therapy may be able to provide relief.


Below are some of the common condition’s shockwave therapy is used for.

• Achilles tendinopathy (pain in the tendon that connects the back of the foot to the calf muscle)

• Plantar fasciitis (pain in the underside of the foot)

• Tennis elbow (pain on the outer side of the elbow)

• Golfers elbow (pain on the inner side of the elbow)

• Patellofemoral syndrome (runner’s knee)

• Iliotibial band Syndrome, or ITBS (pain that stretches from the outside of the hip down the outer thigh to the outside of the knee caused by running and cycling)

• Medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints)

• Bony heel spurs


How does shockwave therapy work?

Shockwave therapy is a pain relief therapy that uses low energy sound waves, or acoustic waves, to target the affected area. It uses low energy sound acoustic waves rather than electrical waves and is delivered directly onto the skin. It is a targeted type of therapy and only treats the insured or damaged areas. The sound waves are ‘radial’ in shape and behavior, which means they can easily penetrate the skin. Once through the skin, they radiate as a shockwave throughout the affected muscle, joint or tendon. Shockwave therapy is therefore a very targeted type of therapy, only treating the areas that are injured or damaged. This makes it a very effective treatment for pain relief.


If you're experiencing pain in a specific area of your body, shockwave therapy may be a treatment option to consider. During this therapy, a hand-held device is used to deliver sound waves through the skin to the affected area. The sound waves are created by compressed air, and they help to break up any deposits that may be causing pain. Shockwave therapy is usually performed on an outpatient basis, and most people only require one or two sessions in order to see results. In addition, there is no need for anesthesia during the procedure, and side effects are typically mild and temporary. If you're looking for a non-invasive way to reduce pain, shockwave therapy may be worth considering.


Shockwave therapy is a type of treatment that uses sound waves to stimulate blood flow and encourage the body’s natural healing processes. The therapy is often used to treat pain associated with injuries or chronic conditions, and it has been shown to be effective in breaking down scar tissue. During shockwave therapy, sound waves are directed at the area of pain or injury. The sound waves stimulate blood flow to the area, and also cause a small amount of localized inflammation. In the days after treatment, the body will work to naturally heal this inflammation, and in doing so, stimulates the repair and regeneration of cells.


Damaged or injured tissues then begin to repair and cause the associated pain to reduce. If you have scar tissue in the area, that’s contributing to your pain, shockwave therapy will also help to break down this thick, fibrous tissue. Scar tissue causes immobility in the surrounding tissues as unlike normal tissues, it isn’t very elastic. Breaking it down using sound waves helps to improve mobility and discomfort. Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment option with minimal side effects and a high success rate. If you’re looking for an effective way to manage your pain, talk to your doctor about whether shockwave therapy could be right for you.


Is shockwave therapy suitable for everyone?

Your specialist will take your full medical history and determine your suitability for shockwave therapy. Shockwave therapy is very safe and effective if administered in a professional setting, but there are certain situations where it is not advised.


This type of treatment isn’t suitable if:

• You have a blood clotting disorder and/or take blood thinning or anticoagulant medications such as aspirin (75mg on a daily basis) or warfarin

• You have a nerve disorder

• You’re pregnant

• You have or have had any kind of bone cancer

• You have an infection in the area that needs treatment

• You have metal pins or plates in the area that needs treatment

• You’ve received a steroid injection for the same problem in the last 12 weeks

• You’ve taken any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen for any reason in the last two weeks


Your specialist will be able to advise the best course of action if any of the above apply to you.


Is shockwave therapy painful

The therapy works by sending sound waves through the body to the site of pain. These sound waves stimulate the healing process and can provide relief from pain. Most patients report only mild discomfort during the procedure, and the vast majority can tolerate the discomfort levels. Each session only lasts a few minutes, so it is a relatively short-term commitment for patients. Shockwave therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of different conditions, and it is an attractive option for patients who are looking for an alternative to surgery or medication.


Wear loose closing when you come for your treatment to allow you to move around easily and make you more comfortable. You may be laying your front or side, depending on where pain is so it will be much easier to do so if you are not hampered by clothing.


What is recovery time from shockwave therapy?

Once your treatment is finished you will be able to go home and return to work and your normal daily activities right away. However, high impact exercise such as running or playing tennis should be avoided for the first 48 hours after treatment.


If you feel any discomfort, you can take paracetamol if you’re able, but avoid taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller such as ibuprofen as it will counteract the treatment and render it useless.


In the days following shockwave therapy, you may experience swelling and redness in the treated area. This can make your pain feel worse, but this is indicative of the healing process, is completely normal and will subside within a day or two. The swelling and redness are caused by the release of inflammatory substances that help to promote healing. During this time, it is important to avoid hot showers or baths, as this can further irritate the skin. You may also want to apply a cold compress to the area for 20 minutes several times a day. By understanding the normal side effects of shockwave therapy, you can rest assured that the treatment is working as it should.


How soon will shockwave therapy work?

Most patients require three sessions of shockwave therapy, each a week apart, before significant pain relief is noticed. Some conditions may require five treatments. Your specialist will be able to discuss your particular case and expectations with you. After your course of treatment is completed, your specialist will usually arrange to see you again to see how you’re getting on.


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