Shockwave therapy is a relatively new treatment modality that has been demonstrated to be an invaluable tool in the treatment of tendon and soft tissue injuries.
First used in the 70’s for its use in breaking down Kidney stones and calcification deposits in the body it became more commonplace in the 80s and in the 90’s and more research appeared into the treatment for soft tissue injuries, so in this form, it is a relatively new technology.
It is a modality which uses pressure disturbance to stimulate the recovery of chronic and sub-acute soft tissue injuries. It works by applying rapid repeated pneumatic pressures through a device applied directly to the painful tissues. Often it is used after conventional treatments have failed to stimulate recovery such as hands-on manual techniques, ultrasound and exercise therapy although it can be used as a front-line treatment.
The effects on the soft tissues are:
- Mechanical Stimulation
- Increased local blood flow
- Increase in cellular activity
- Pain-relieving effects on local nerves
- Breaking down of calcific deposits
There are several research articles demonstrating the benefits of the treatment and a rising number of articles supporting its use. A lot of the evidence centres around particularly tendon pain in conditions such as Jumpers’ knee (the exacerbation of the patella tendon), Achilles tendon problems and plantar fasciitis (pain from the sole of the feet). It has also been demonstrated to benefit Tennis elbow, Golfers’ elbow and shoulder pain so it does have a broad spectrum of uses.
In all this modality will be of huge benefit to patients with tendon/soft tissue injuries especially if more conventional treatments have failed. It is regularly seen as the go-to treatment prior to more invasive treatments.