Shockwave Therapy- What is it? & How can it help me?

Athletes subject their bodies to a lot of stress, both in preparation and when performing. If our  tendons are not prepared for the level of stress they are exposed to, they may  breakdown. If maintained over a prolonged period of time, this breakdown can lead to chronic inflammation. For you, the athlete, this is likely to mean pain and a loss in function or performance. 

Unfortunately, once this cycle of chronic inflammation has set in, it can be very tricky to overcome. These are often the niggles that athletes suffer with over whole seasons, and beyond. The science behind overcoming these injuries has always been straight forward; Remove the aggravating activity and increase the tissue tolerance with appropriate loading. And if all that fails- inject the tendon with steroids. 

More recently, Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT), has become increasingly more popular. A scientific literature review published in the International Journal of Surgery in December 2015, concluded that the current evidence is very supportive of targeted ESWT when it comes to managing tendinopathies and here's how it works:

  • Promotion of new blood vessels- Tendons don't have a great blood supply. More blood....More healing. 
  • Stimulation of more healing cells- Shockwave excites the body into producing more healing cells. 
  • Amplified protein and collagen synthesis- Higher production of the building blocks needed to re-organise your tendon. 

Shockwave Therapy is recommended for a variety of tendon pathologies, with current research indicating a 70-80% success rate when used in conjunction with exercise based rehabilitation. The list of potential applications is forever growing. However, here are the conditions we use ESWT for at PhysioForm: 

  1. IT Band Syndrome (Lateral hip or Lateral Knee pain)
  2. Plantar Fasciitis (Sole of foot pain) 
  3. Patella Tendinopathy (Runners Knee) 
  4. Achillles Tendiopathy (Heel pain) 
  5. Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints) 
  6. Epicondylitis (Golfers or Tennis Elbow) 

What to expect? 

Although exact parameters to treatment are yet to be established, Normally we administer Shockwave Therapy 4-6 times over a course of a few weeks. The treatment may feel uncomfortable and exacerbate symptoms initially, however this soon wears off. There are a few contra-indications to ESWT, so be sure to disclose any relevant health problems during your assessment. 

If you have a queries about your condition and how Shockwave Therapy can help you please call us on 01283 56333.