Shockwave Therapy: Your Questions Answered

Shockwave therapy may sound a bit frightening, but in fact, it’s a widely used treatment for injuries that haven’t responded well to other remedies. If you have a stubborn injury that doesn’t seem to be getting better, shockwave therapy might be what you’ve been hoping for.

What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive procedure used to treat soft tissue injuries and reduce pain. Also known as extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), this procedure has been used in medical settings since the early 1980s to treat patients with kidney stones. It is still used for this purpose but has since been adapted to treat a wide variety of injuries and medical conditions.

How Does Shockwave Therapy Work?

Shockwave therapy delivers a series of high-energy acoustic (sound) waves to the injured area. The treatment is administered using a handheld wand-like device that the therapist holds over the area being treated.

When used for soft tissue injuries, the treatment induces microtrauma in the injured tissue. The body responds to this by ramping up the healing process, increasing blood flow to the region, releasing growth factors, facilitating new cell growth, producing more collagen, and reversing chronic inflammation. Think of it as jump-starting the body’s natural healing processes, including the ones that relieve pain.

When used to treat calcification, excess deposits of calcium on tissue, the shockwaves break the calcium deposits up so that the body can naturally remove them.

What are the Most Common Conditions Treated with Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy has been used to treat many conditions, and research is ongoing as to additional applications. These are the most common conditions treated with shockwave therapy:

·       Plantar fasciitis

·       Calcification tendonitis of therotator cuff

·       Achilles tendinopathy

·       Lateral epicondylitis (tenniselbow)

·       Patellar tendinopathy (jumper’sknee)

·       Medial epicondylitis (golfer’selbow)

·       Shin splints

·       Bone non-union (broken bonesthat have failed to heal)

·       Hallux rigidus (stiff toe)

·       Stress fractures

·       Hamstring injuries

·       Hip pain

·       Bursitis

·       Excessive scar tissue

Shockwave therapy is also being investigated for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, although the patients may have to visit a specialized clinic for this treatment.

Can Shockwave Therapy Cause Damage?

Shockwave therapy results in trauma in a very isolated area, but it does not cause injury per se. The delivery of the shockwaves is extremely focused, and the energy levels are controlled depending on the treatment requirements. Each shockwave pulse is a very short duration, which limits any potential damage. Shockwave therapy specialists thoroughly understand the conditions they are treating, ensuring that the treatment is safe and effective.

Like any medical treatment, shockwave therapy has potential risks and side effects, although medical research indicates that serious side effects are rare, normally limited to soreness and mild bruising. Your therapist can discuss these issues with you before you undergo treatment so that you can make an informed decision.

Does Shockwave Therapy Hurt?

Shockwave therapy can cause some discomfort depending on the treatment’s intensity, the area, the condition being treated, and the patient’s pain tolerance. If the sensation is too difficult to tolerate, your therapist can adjust the intensity level to make you more comfortable.

After the treatment, you can expect the treated area to feel sore, similar to what you might experience after an intense workout. You might also notice some slight bruising in the area.

How Effective is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy is not guaranteed to relieve pain completely, correct the underlying condition, or heal the injury. However, shockwave therapy has been called a revolutionary advance in the treatment of soft tissue injuries and calcification. Numerous medical studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating a wide variety of injuries and conditions, and the treatment is used in many hospitals and physiotherapy settings as well as by physicians who work with professional sports teams.

Will my Insurance Pay for Shockwave Therapy?

Provincial health care plans do not cover Shockwave therapy, but if you have private insurance, your plan will likely pay for it. WSIB may also cover treatment for workplace injuries. If you do have to pay for it out of pocket, you will find it quite affordable, and your increased functionality and reduced pain will make it worthwhile.

Chiro-Med Rehab Centre is pleased to offer shockwave therapy along with other medical-quality services such as chiropractic care, physiotherapy, massage therapy, and concussion management along with other rehabilitation therapies. We are conveniently located at 10520 Yonge St., Unit #1, in Richmond Hill, Ontario, just south of Elgin Mills Rd. E. Callus today at (905) 918-0419 to discuss your condition and how we can help you be your best, most active self again!

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