Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (SWT)
Shockwave therapy started in Germany over 30 years ago and was most commonly used to break down kidney stones from outside the body. Technology has now allowed this technique to be modified to help chronic musculoskeletal conditions.
Shockwave Therapy also known as radial shockwave therapy releases radial pressure waves through a series of compressed air bursts or hits. These pressure waves are then converted into acoustic energy inside the cylinder and this energy then penetrates the skin targeting specific muscles, soft tissue or bone depending on your condition. A tapping sensation may be felt in the area treated and you will hear a series of “clicks” whilst the treatment is being delivered. Different dosages of SWT are tailored specifically to your condition and pain tolerance.
SWT assists in increasing blood flow, metabolism and collagen formation to problematic areas. It also alters pain signals and can help in calcification breakdown. These cellular effects may be noticed in the form of:
Tissue healing and regeneration (e.g. tendinopathy, muscle strain/sprain)
Muscle release (e.g chronic muscle tightness and trigger points)
Treatment lasts between 2-3 minutes per treatment area and immediate pain relief is common. Active care is crucial for the effectiveness of SWT treatment and your chiropractor will advise on the correct exercises. Significant improvement can be felt after 3-4 treatments and a maximum of 6 weekly SWT treatment visits are recommended. There are minimal if any side effects from treatment. Mild side effects include redness, swelling, temporary increase in pain and bruising. These may last 2-5 days following SWT.
Of course, SWT may not be suitable for all conditions and people. If you have acute inflammation, bleeding or coagulation disorders (e.g. haemophilia), altered sensory or nervous function (e.g. Diabetes), malignancy, prostheses, implants, have recently had corticosteroid injections or are pregnant then SWT is not suitable for you.
SWT is a safe, effective, evidence-based and non-invasive treatment method. It can assist in conditions which are traditionally difficult to treat including tendinopathies, muscle tightness, knee and shoulder pain. SWT is believed to have on par or superior treatment effect to surgery and corticosteroid injections in some musculoskeletal conditions. Listed below are some of the conditions where SWT treatment may help
- Patellar tendinopathy
- Patellofemoral syndrome
- Shin splints
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Plantar fasciitis
- Chronic muscle trigger points
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Low back/thoracic pain
- Calcified shoulder tendinitis
- Frozen shoulder
- Trapezius tension
- Tennis/golfer’s elbow
- Finger tendonitis
- Muscle cramps/spasm
- Other tendinopathies (e.g. Rotator cuff, Hamstring)
Still not sure if SWT can help you?
Talk to our chiropractors at your next appointment or browse through the Shockwave Therapy brochures at reception.