Extracorpeal Shockwave Therapy
Shockwaves are essentially sound waves with a very specific wave form. Unlike radial pressure wave therapy, shockwave therapy penetrates deep into the tissue and thus to the site of injury. The biologic signaling effect of shockwaves is much higher than both radial pressure waves and ultrasound and is therefore clinically much more effective.
Mechanism of Action
Shockwaves elicit a strong cellular response. The images below illustrate the activation of mitochondria (the cell’s power source) in nerve cells before and after ESWT. The sudden change in pressure caused by the shockwaves triggers the cell to respond as it would to trauma. In other words: shockwaves initiate a biologic healing response. Numerous studies show the release of growth factors, anti-inflammatory agents and an improved blood supply in response to ESWT.
- Chronic heel pain (plantar fasciitis)
- Tendon and ligament injuries
- Muscle pain
The procedure takes only 5-10 minutes. Much like an ultrasound procedure, the treatment area will be covered with gel to ensure good shockwave transmission. After coupling the therapy head to your body (see pictures) your therapist will deliver a specific number of pulses. The energy can be applied at your personal comfort level.
More than 80% of patients report improvement even after just one treatment. Depending on your particular condition you will likely be scheduled for 3-5 sessions. The final outcome depends on a variety of factors, but most studies report a healing rate 65-80%.