Injuries are part of life. Some injuries take longer to heal than others. All of them hurt, though—some more than others. Fortunately, medications are not the only option to deal with the nagging pain and limitations of these injuries.
Shockwave therapy may be a better alternative to regular over-the-counter medications. You must be wondering what is shockwave therapy? Read on to learn what it is, how it works, and how it can change your life.
Shockwave therapy is a modern treatment method that directs high-energy acoustic waves to the aching site. It is a modified version of the therapy used to break up kidney stones and is a key tool in a physiotherapist’s arsenal to manage chronic joint and muscle pain.
The shockwaves are introduced via an applicator, similar to a massage gun, which is also known as the shockwave therapy machine. Prior to application, a special gel is applied to the affected area. This helps with the transmission of shockwaves into the body.
The shockwave therapy machine allows for the intensity of waves to be adjusted. Each treatment session lasts only for 8–10 minutes. Standard regimens include 3–6 treatments, however, this may vary based on your condition and your physiotherapist’s assessment.
Shockwave therapy is always used with other physiotherapy techniques such as training, manual therapy, or active therapy. The two techniques work in conjunction to trigger optimal recovery and healing. The use of shockwave therapy is not just limited to immediate pain relief. It can also be used to loosen up tense muscles and tendons. It increases mobility and improves the function of joints and ligaments as well.
Shockwave therapy stimulates the body’s natural healing process. The high-energy acoustic waves are absorbed by the body and lower the production of substance P.
Substance P is an essential component of pain transmission. This, coupled with the hyperstimulation of pain receptors by the high-energy waves, helps alleviate pain.
Shockwaves also stimulate the production of new blood vessels. Blood flow to damaged tissue is critical to the healing and repair process. They also stimulate mast cells involved in the inflammatory process which accelerates the healing and regenerative processes.
Collagen is an important protein for the repair of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Shockwave therapy accelerates the production of collagen. Moreover, it breaks up existing calcifications and concretions in damaged muscles and tissues which also accelerates the repair process.
Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical option to medications and surgery. It requires no anesthesia or other drugs. It is less stressful on the body and leverages the body’s self-healing abilities.
While pain medications only mask the symptoms, shockwave therapy aims to manage the cause. Studies have consistently shown its benefits for various complaints such as pain, muscle tightness, and movement limitation.
The procedure is easy to perform and takes less than 10 minutes. The results are almost immediate and can help with a range of chronic disorders. These include common ailments such as tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, jumper’s knee, and also more severe problems like rotator cuff tendinopathy.
This form of therapy is also cost-effective. It only requires a few treatment courses and imposes no movement limitations. You can return to your daily activities immediately after every session.
Shockwave treatment is safe. It has little to no side effects and prevents the use of pharmaceutical drugs.