Shockwave – The Geeky Bit!!

Get ready for the Science….

Shockwave Therapy was initially employed as a non invasive treatment for kidney stones in the early 70’s, it has now become the first line intervention for such kidney conditions. This led to a series of experimental investigations looking at the effect Shockwave Therapy has on bone, cartilage and associated soft tissues resulting in what is quickly becoming the ‘go too’ intervention for many musculoskeletal conditions.

There are four different ways to produce a ‘shockwave’ these are: spark discharge; piezoelectric; electromagnetic and pneumatic. The wave that is generated will vary in its energy content and also will have different penetration characteristics in human tissue. The type we utilise in clinic is based on the pneumatic system; this type is referred to as soft shockwave as (you will be pleased to hear) it is far less destructive than the alternatives used to treat kidney stones.  The less destructive nature of the soft shockwaves we use in clinic is the reason why it is so safe as there are very few contraindications for its use.

Shockwave Therapy is so new when compared to other treatment techniques the full details of the physiological and therapeutic mechanisms are yet to be identified, though a range of effects have been confirmed and several others suggested.

Some of the effects relate to an increase in local blood flow which has been clearly evidenced. It has also been shown that the beneficial effects are also partly due to a stimulation of an inflammatory response. Therefore enhancing tissue repair responses.

Increasing blood flow and stimulating an inflammatory response are common effects of many treatments found in the physiotherapy world. However the way Shockwave Therapy effects an individual’s scar tissue really sets it ahead of many other treatment options. Unlike normal elasticated tissue, scar tissue is non-elastic and will prevent normal movement and function. By breaking down scar tissue, Shockwave Therapy will stimulate recovery and promote normal healing.

Another strong argument as to why Shockwave Therapy is so effective is because it stimulates a persistent tendinopathy (soft tissue injury) from a chronic non-effective inflammatory state to an acute effective inflammatory state. This provides the stimulus/trigger one’s body needs to restart a ‘stalled’ repair sequence.

Shockwave Therapy promotes “natural healing” as it alerts your body’s natural mechanisms to help heal the area. The weight of evidence is building in support of Shockwave Therapy. To the extent where world renowned experts discussing the gold standard management of many conditions use Shockwave Therapy alongside other more traditional techniques. At the Back & Body clinic we always strive to provide world class care therefore providing Shockwave Therapy was a must.


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