How does Shockwave Therapy work in the rehabilitation of major sports injuries? Our expert Osteopath Andy Mansfield explains.
The term Shockwave Therapy may sound scary, but it really isn’t. An osteopath simply passes a wave of audible, mechanical energy through the skin via a handheld device or probe.
Shockwave Therapy is simply a machine that delivers sound waves, much the same as the beat of a drum or clapping of our hands. These sound like pops or clicks when the device is running.
The machine generates impulses with compressed air. These are precisely controlled, and by varying the frequency and intensity of the pulses, the system can achieve a variety of desired results.
How does Shockwave Therapy work?
Ever noticed how the noise changes when you put your head underwater? That’s because sound travels much faster and further through water than air. Sound waves move at different rates depending on what the waves are moving through.
The sound wave will remain pretty much unchanged as it travels through any substance (although it will lose some energy to the surrounding matter). At the barrier between different substances, known as a transition, there is an effect on both the barrier and the substance as the wave’s energy changes.
The machine used in Shockwave Therapy can precisely vary the frequency, the amount of energy, and the shape of the wave in order to target the transition between body tissues. This creates a stimulatory effect and can be used to break down scar tissue by prompting an inflammation-like response in the injury. This will trigger healing in injuries that have been struggling to rehabilitate using other methods.
There is evidence that this process also improves circulation, increases the number of blood vessels and, therefore, the metabolism in the injured tissue. This has potential benefits for the long term recovery of the problem.
Your therapist will assess you and your injury and then choose the machine’s appropriate settings, including the number of shocks. There may be some discomfort, but it shouldn’t be painful. In fact, Shockwave Therapy can be used solely for pain relief in certain conditions.
The treatments usually take around 20 mins, although the first session may be a little longer as your therapist will start lightly and increase the settings to a level you are happy with. You may need between three and five sessions, depending on the problem.
What are the benefits of Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave Therapy is non-invasive, quick, and relatively pain-free. It restores mobility and quality of life with few complications, without the need for anaesthetic.
Are there any risks?
There are a few pre-existing conditions that may mean Shockwave Therapy is not recommended for you. These include prescriptions for blood-thinning drugs and recent (within 12 weeks) steroid injections into the affected area.
Your practitioner will ask relevant questions to make sure you are safe to treat before beginning the process. If you have any doubts, speak to your therapist.
What can Shockwave Therapy be used for?
Shockwave Therapy offers a proven minimum of 90% effectiveness when treating issues including:
– Shoulder problems, such as tendinopathy
– Plantar Fasciitis
– Jumpers Knee
– Shin Splints
– Achilles Tendinopathy
– Trochanteric Bursitis
– Tennis Elbow
– Stress Fractures
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