Shockwave therapy: sound waves healing tissues
A stubborn injury's worst nightmare.
What is shockwave therapy?
Shockwave therapy is an effective treatment, which utilizes high-energy acoustic waves to deliver strong mechanical impulses to the injured tissue. Shockwave technology was originally applied in medicine to destroy kidney stones but has now been shown to also aid in the healing of musculoskeletal issues. Inside of the “gun” mechanism, kinetic energy of a small projectile is created via compressed air.
The kinetic energy from the projectile is transferred to the “transmitter” at the end of the gun and subsequently into the tissue. The kinetic energy transfer into the tissues results in a high-amplitude jump in pressure of that tissue.
During a single session, a patient may receive 1500-2000 of these shocks to the injured area. Shockwave therapy has been to be a safe and highly effective, non-invasive treatment in the management of a number of acute or chronic over-use tissue injuries. Shockwave treatments have been shown to induce tissue regeneration, long-term healing and the repair of pathogenic tissues1,2.
How does it work?
The high-energy impact of the shockwave can actually accelerate tissue repair and cell growth of tendons, bones and muscles. Following treatments of shockwave therapy, treated tissues experience long-term tissue regeneration as well as an immediate decrease of inflammatory in the treated tissue2. This inflammatory response is achieved by the production of an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase, which leads to an increase in nitric oxide in the tissue. An increase of nitric oxide essentially inhibits the production of inflammatory cells including mast cells in the injured area2. The shockwaves themselves also can create micro-ruptures in tendons and muscles, which leads to the release of growth factors. These growth factors allow for a process of remodeling, which can grow existing blood vessels and form new ones2. This results in increased blood flow to the tissue and long-term tissue regeneration.
In a nutshell, the increased pressure in tissue caused by the shockwaves, initiate the production of enzymes, which have anti-inflammatory properties. The impact of the shockwave also stimulates the release of growth factors, which lead to increased blood flow, and long-term healing.
Is shockwave right for you?
Shockwave therapy, through rigorous scientific studies, has been shown to be a valuable supplemental treatment of many musculoskeletal injuries/pathologies. Some of the conditions Shockwave therapy has been shown to resolve include:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Calcifying tendonitis of shoulder (frozen shoulder)
- Jumper’s knee
- Achilles tendonitis
Want to learn more?
- Visit the shockwave therapy website
- Check out our shockwave therapy page
- Or you can come and speak to one of our excellent physiotherapists!
- Wang C.J, Extracorporeal shockwave therapy in musculoskeletal disorders. J. Ortho Surgery and Research. 2012 March;7(11):1-8
- Mariotto S, de Prati A.C, Cavalieri E, Amelio E,Marlinghaus E, Suzuki H, Extracorporeal shockwave therapy in inflammatory diseases: Molecular mechanism that triggers anti-inflammatory action. Current Medical Chemistry. 2009;16:2366-2372