Research shows that fifty million Americans are suffering from chronic pain. That chronic pain is responsible for $80 billion in lost wages every year.

Unfortunately, the tools doctors primarily rely on to resolve chronic pain are painkillers and invasive operations.

What if there was another way to treat chronic pain that didn’t require medication or surgery? Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive way to treat soft tissue disorders, bone defects, and even erectile dysfunction.

This promising treatment is gaining popularity among chronic pain sufferers and medical practitioners can benefit from adding a shockwave therapy machine to their medical practice.

Many people who suffer from tendon and soft tissue damage enjoy having a shockwave therapy device in the home as well.

Keep reading to learn more about how shock wave therapy works, the range of conditions it treats, and why it’s the safest option for the treatment of chronic pain.

What Is Shockwave Therapy?

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is a type of regenerative medicine. It uses high-frequency acoustic shockwaves to stimulate the body’s natural responses to injury and encourage the process of healing. 

The goals of shockwave therapy include pain reduction, removal of barriers to recovery, and acceleration of the healing process. 

How Does Shock Wave Therapy Work?

There really isn’t any shocking involved in shock wave therapy at all. In fact, the shockwaves are mechanical rather than electrical. The purpose of these low-energy sound waves is to increase blood flow.

The first thing a shockwave therapy device does is desensitize the nerve endings in the damaged area. This provides an instantaneous pain reduction.

Then the shock wave device delivers acoustic shockwaves through the skin to areas with soft tissue damage. The shock waves break up scar tissue in the area. Basically, reinjuring it.

How Does the Body Respond to Shockwave Therapy?

The body responds in several beneficial ways to the minor damage caused by the shockwaves. It accelerates specific cellular processes related to the repair of soft tissue.

It also increases the blood flow to that area. This involves creating new capillaries, which are very small blood vessels. The increased blood flow and capillaries provide a nutrient boost to the body’s cells which improves healing.

Shock wave therapy breaks up calcified fibroblasts. Removing calcium build-up from injured areas creates more opportunities for healing.

Finally, shock wave therapy reduces the number of neurotransmitters that send pain messages to the brain.

What Conditions Does Shock Wave Therapy Treat?

Research shows that shock wave therapy is a safe and effective treatment for several conditions. These include:

  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow 
  • Scoliosis
  • Sacroiliitis
  • Coccydynia
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Greater trochanteric pain syndrome
  • Patella tendinopathy
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy
  • Insertional Achilles tendinopathy
  • Calcific tendinopathy
  • Mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cervical spondylosis
  • Overuse injuries
  • Bone spurs
  • Cellulite treatment
  • Shin splints
  • Scar tissue

In addition, shock wave therapy has been used to treat pain in areas of the body including the feet, ankles, knees, hamstrings, back, hands, neck, jaw, and shoulder.

Athletes suffering from sports injuries also find shockwave therapy beneficial.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence supports shock wave therapy as a treatment for tendon-related chronic pain. It has proven to improve the quality of life for suffers from soft tissue damage.

In a 2018 study, shock wave therapy significantly reduced pain levels in 70 percent of patients suffering from tendinopathy. Shock wave therapy improved their quality of life.

Benefits of Shockwave Therapy

The benefits of treating sufferers of chronic tendon pain and tissue-related disorders with shock wave therapy are numerous. First of all, shock wave therapy has shown to be a very effective treatment for chronic pain.

Another significant benefit is that shock wave therapy is non-invasive. That means there is very little recovery time required. Patients can be back on their feet, returning to life as normal (though with significantly reduced pain and improved quality of life) immediately or almost immediately.

Shock wave therapy is a non-surgical option. Treatment does not require anesthesia. Therefore, patients save both time and money by avoiding undergoing surgery and staying in the hospital.

In addition, there is no risk of infection from shock wave therapy as there is with surgery.

Compared to other treatment options, shock wave therapy is highly affordable. Shockwave therapy is far more comfortable and enticing than other treatment options for chronic pain.

In fact, you can even enjoy the benefits of shockwave therapy in the comfort of your own home. There are many shockwave therapy devices designed to be used inside the home.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Shock Wave Therapy?

If you suffer from one of the conditions listed above and are not seeing results from traditional treatments or therapy methods, you might be a good candidate for shock wave therapy.

Shock wave therapy is an effective solution if you suffer from chronic pain but do not want to take medication or undergo surgery to relieve your pain.

Of course, you should always consult your doctor in order to determine the best course of treatment for your condition. 

Is Shock Wave Therapy Safe?

In almost every circumstance, shock wave therapy is safe. The side effects of shock wave therapy are negligible when compared with surgeries used to treat the same conditions.

The side-effects that do pertain to shock wave therapy are minor. You may experience numbness or mild swelling and bruising in the area that received the shock wave treatment. However, recovery from shock wave therapy is quick.

Who Should Not Get Shock Wave Therapy?

There are a few circumstances in which shock wave therapy is not advisable as a treatment for chronic pain. Any person suffering from some type of nerve disorder or circulatory disorder should not use shock wave therapy.

Similarly, a person suffering from a metabolic bone condition or bone tumor should avoid shock wave therapy as a treatment and seek another form of therapy for their chronic pain.

What You Should Expect From a Shock Wave Therapy Treatment Session

Most shockwave therapy treatments require several sessions. You will schedule these sessions over the course of a few weeks.

Each shock wave therapy session takes about five to ten minutes. The time it takes depends on the size of the area being treated.

Your treatment session will begin with the application of a numbing gel that also enhances the contact between the shock wave machine and your skin. Once the machine starts, it will send acoustic waves into your skin.

For some people, the sensation of the shockwaves is mildly uncomfortable. The discomfort has been described as a feeling similar to a rubber band snapping against the skin.

Of course, if the treatment becomes too painful for you, it is possible to pause and take a break or stop altogether. Your practitioner can also make adjustments to the shockwave device so it is more comfortable for you.

If your treatment occurred on the lower half of your body, such as the calf or foot, your doctor may recommend your keep it elevated after treatment.

It is uncommon, but in some circumstances, it may be necessary to have someone drive you home after the treatment. 

How Long Does It Take for Shock Wave Therapy Treatments to Work?

Initially, you will feel a numbing sensation in the treatment area. This is a temporary response to the treatment.

Your pain will feel duller, but you won’t feel a consistent reduction in pain for a few weeks. The initial result of the procedure should take the edge off of your pain.

Over the next few weeks, you should notice a consistent improvement in your pain levels. You should feel a significant reduction in pain or complete pain relief after eight to 12 weeks, on average.

Results take several weeks because the treatment is gradual. It takes a series of treatment sessions to achieve complete relief from chronic pain.

Additionally, the treatment uses sound waves to interrupt the pain signals neurotransmitters are sending through your body.

The shockwave causes a small amount of damage in order to encourage the body to focus on repair. The energy from the shockwaves is working on a molecular level to reinterpret the way your body responds to pain.

Which Types of Medical Practitioners Benefit From Shock Wave Therapy Devices?

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy has gained popularity across a broad range of medical disciplines as a safe and effective alternative treatment for chronic pain.

The practitioners most likely to benefits from adding a shockwave therapy device to their clinical setting include orthopedists, podiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, pain management clinics, and sports medicine practitioners.

Shockwave Therapy in Review

Shockwave therapy is proven to be an effective treatment for chronic pain related to a wide variety of tendon and soft tissue issues. It is an excellent alternative to pain killers and surgery.

Shockwave therapy will help your patients save money and heal faster. It will guarantee patients avoid infection, scarring, and anesthesia. Add a specialized shockwave therapy device to your clinic or put one in your home today! Contact Oceanus, a leading innovator in radial pulse therapy.