Therapeutic shockwaves were introduced as a medical treatment for eliminating kidney stones without causing skin injury, over 20 years ago. Some of the side effects discovered while using this treatment, were the bone healing and accelerated tissue healing results on the areas submitted to shockwave treatment. Today the use of radial shockwaves or Radial Pressures Waves (RPW) has been successfully extended to other therapeutic and wellness applications such soft tissue pathologies. It is an excellent non invasive treatment method with very few negative side effects, for indications that are normally very difficult to treat. For these indications we now know that RPW is a treatment method that reduces pain as well as improves function and quality of life.
What does treatment involve?
Ultrasound gel is applied to the skin over your problem area to help transmit the waves. A gun-like gadget called an applicator is placed over the region with moderate pressure. A series of short sharp vibrations are emitted from the end of the applicator and into the problem tissues. Your doctor will be targeting the most painful spot. The intensity of the treatment should feel like a 6/10 on the pain scale, so while it is not a comfortable treatment, it lasts only a couple of minutes. The intensity is easily adjusted during the treatment if needed. Treatment is performed only once every 4-7 days. Many patients will experience up to 50% relief after just their first session and many find that they are better within 3-6 treatments.
What are the physiological effects of treatment?
Today there are several working hypotheses for the physical effects of radial pressure waves:
- Shockwaves create increased cell membrane permeability metabolically which allows old, damaged and weakened cells to be removed and replaced with healthy viable cells.
- Neurologically, shockwaves produce a counter irritation at the dorsal root ganglion actually modulating the amount of nocioceptive activity and decreasing the pain signal and actually closing the theoretical pain gate.
- Vascular changes such as increased blood circulate in tissues which increases the oxygen content and significantly reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the tissue which may stimulate the healing process. •
- Based on the hypothesis towards associative pain memory (Wess), afferent pain signals are transmitted through the central nervous system by multiple synaptic junctions which eventually cause efferent fibers to control muscle tone. The reflex mechanism works just like a regulatory circuit.
What conditions is RPW effective for?
- Myofascial trigger points
- Rotator cuff and calcific tendinitis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Trigger finger
- Hip pain & IT band syndrome
- IT band syndrome
- Hamstring & patellar tendinopathy
- Osgood Schlatter
- Tibial Stress Syndrome
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Plantar fasciitis