Shockwave Therapy is a form of treatment that use sonic waves to provoke the body into a healing response. Conditions and injuries that fail to respond to conventional treatments often respond to shockwave therapy as it taps into the regenerative processes of the body encouraging the body to heal itself. Shockwave Therapy Treatment is administered externally by a hand-held device that delivers acoustic shock waves into the tissue. These acoustic waves stimulate natural tissue repair mechanisms as well as breaking down calcified and damaged tissue.
Mechano-transduction is one of the biological processes whereby mechanical stresses (such as sound waves), when applied to tissue, are translated by the cells into chemical signals which alter their behaviour. Shockwave therapy works via this process.
The sonic waves penetrate the tissue provoking the cells to change their behaviour and begin the process of healing the affected tissue. One of the changes that occur in the tissue is angiogenesis – capillaries start to bud and grow improving the supply of blood to the affected area and since tissue healing is highly dependent on blood supply the healing process is accelerated.
Another change is that the cells start to produce and release more collagen which is essential to the repair of tendons, ligaments, fascia and bones. Many studies have shown that shockwave therapy stimulates repair of tendons, ligaments and bones while also improving blood supply.
Shockwave therapy is therefore an example of regenerative medicine whereby the body is stimulated to heal itself.
As well Shockwave stimulation reduces nerve pain signals and has an anaesthetic effect on the area. While this initial response does not last more long-term effects on the nervous system also occur.
Conditions that benefit from shockwave therapy
Shockwave Therapy is very useful for treating painful tendons, muscles and joints. It can be used soon after the occurrence of injury to stimulate immediate and ongoing repair.
However, it is even more effective in the treatment of chronic conditions where calcification or tissue damage is evident and other treatments have proved ineffective.
Conditions that benefit from shockwave therapy include:
• Plantar fasciitis
• Achilles tendinitis
• Shoulder tendinitis
• Recalcitrant bone healing
• Tennis elbow
• Heel spurs
• Knee pain
• Hip pain
• TMJ pain
Many of these conditions can last for months or even years if left untreated and for some of them, Shockwave therapy is the only viable alternative to surgery.
Shockwave Therapy treatment
Shockwave therapy is applied via a hand-held device using ultrasound gel as a medium. The number of shockwaves administered to any one area is limited and treatment to an area will generally not take more than 10 minutes.
The procedure is very safe and numerous studies have shown only mildly adverse reactions such as temporary skin reddening and very occasionally mild bruising. Treatment on a weekly basis should be performed for several weeks in succession for optimum results though even one treatment will generally be beneficial. Natural healing of the body will continue for several months. Many recipients will experience immediate relief of major symptoms following treatment.
Key to the success of treatment is the variety of transmitter heads that can be used. The technology underlying Shockwave therapy is highly sophisticated and many diverse transmitter heads have been developed. Some heads produce sonic waves that are gentle enough to treat TMJ and sub-occipital problems others are robust enough to affect calcified tissue. The energy produced by the sonic waves, although targeted in one area, travels in a wave to affect surrounding tissue expanding the regenerative, healing response of the body.
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