What is extracorporeal radial shockwave therapy?
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy is a series of high-energy percussions to the affected area. The shockwave is a physical sound wave “shock”, not an electric one.
How does it work?
Treatment produces an inflammatory response. The body responds by increasing metabolic activity around the site of pain. This stimulates and accelerates the healing process.
Shockwaves break down scar tissue and/or calcification.
Transmission of pain is blocked.
What are the benefits of Shockwave Treatment
This therapy stimulates the body’s natural self-healing process. There is actually an immediate reduction of pain and improved range of motion. Shockwave therapy may also eliminate your need for surgery.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (SWT) is a modality used for the treatment of a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, primarily applied to chronic conditions, particularly those affecting medium to large sized tendons and their insertions on bone such as:
Lateral Epicondylosis (Tennis Elbow)
Medial Epicondylosis (Golfer’s Elbow)
Calcific Tendonitis (supraspinatus tendon, etc.)
Patellar Tendinosis (Jumper’s Knee)
Chronic Stress/Non-union Fractures
SWT has been available in Canada since the mid-90s but has recently been popularized with the advent of low energy SWT. SWT is an intervention that stimulates the body’s natural healing process. Additionally, SWT has been shown to have a direct effect on local nerve endings resulting in a decrease in pain. It is important to understand the difference between low energy and high energy SWT when considering whether you are an appropriate candidate for SWT and which type of SWT is most likely to yield positive results in the treatment of your condition.
Does it hurt?
The energy bursts delivered through the Shockwave machine are generally uncomfortable, but manageable. While this might seem intimidating, the benefits of the treatment significantly outweigh the temporary discomfort associated with the treatment. The Shockwave machine causes some local inflammation, however this will generate more blood flow to the region and help with the healing process.
Will my treatment be covered under my Extended Health Plan (EHP)?
Yes, it is covered under Physiotherapy or Chiropractic treatment (depending on which provider you’re receiving treatment from).
Typical treatment time with shockwave is roughly 5 minutes. This therapy can be a bit uncomfortable at first, but the area typically reduces in irritation after 30 seconds. Afterwards the tissue may be red and a bit sore for a few hours; on occasion the tissue may feel sore into the next day. This is not a bad thing and the soreness should be of a different quality if it is present at all.
3 to 5 treatment sessions of shockwave are typically necessary to cause enough disturbances so the body can re-heal itself properly.