What is shockwave therapy and how is it used by a physio?

Many people’s experience with physiotherapy is going to a clinic and seeing one therapist for a set 30-minute appointment, which may include some general treatments such as exercises or manual manipulation – but that’s all there’s time for. And while sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that, at Spectrum, we do things a little differently.

Our 360º approach to physio means there are no limits to how many therapists you can see in one session, or constraints on session time. One of the unique things about our team is that we are made up of different, multidisciplinary specialists, so no matter what sort of treatment you need, we’re able to offer it on the spot (and with no extra hidden costs). We’re also committed to staying up-to-date with the latest technologies and including them as part of the personalised treatment programmes we create for all our patients, one of which is known as shockwave therapy.

Shockwave therapy treatment to patients foot

But what is shockwave?

Shockwave or Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) as it’s officially called, is a non-invasive treatment that uses acoustic sound waves to stimulate an increase in new blood vessels in the affected area, helping damaged tissues to recover quicker. It can be used as a stand-alone treatment, but with many of our personalised programmes at Spectrum, it will be used in conjunction with other therapies for a holistic treatment approach.

It’s commonly used as an alternative to surgery or injections for injuries and has also been shown to help relieve chronic pain.

Shockwave Therapy treatment to patients knee

How does it work?

Shockwave therapy delivers targeted impulses of energy to damaged tissue, at a depth of up to 40mm. We apply a gel-like substance to the skin above the affected area and then apply a probe, which is what sends impulses as a shockwave through the tissue.

These radial shockwaves kick-start an inflammation-like response in the tissue, and encourage your body to respond naturally, by increasing blood circulation driving your metabolism, and creating new blood vessels.

If you’ve suffered from an injury, shockwave can also break up scar tissue on a cellular level, forming new blood vessels and helping the tissue re-heal to become stronger and more flexible.

If it’s your first-time having shockwave treatment, we’ll start with an appropriate level of intensity, which we can increase over time if needed, as part of your personalised treatment plan.

There is no lengthy recovery time after having shockwave, in fact many patients experience immediate pain-relief after the first treatment. Even though it’s a heavy-duty treatment, because it’s non-invasive, at worst you might have slight bruising or soreness on the spot that was treated, but if this occurs it will be minor and not last more than a few days.

Shockwave Therapy treatment to patients elbow

What can you commonly treat using shockwave?

While shockwave can be used as part of a treatment program for a number of different conditions, generally speaking tendon or inflammatory injuries or chronic issues such as scarring around a muscle are good candidates for shockwave.

Injuries like tennis elbow, shoulder rotator cuff pain, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and greater trochanteric pain syndrome are all examples of the types of injuries that may be treated by shockwave. But it can also be useful to promote bone healing and an effective alternative to surgery for treating fractures that aren’t healing.

Is shockwave therapy expensive?

At Spectrum, shockwave is one of the treatments that makes up part of our unique 360º approach. We were one of the first physiotherapy clinics in London to offer shockwave as part of a treatment plan, not only as a standalone therapy, as our mother clinic in Canada has been doing it for more than 15 years before we pioneered bringing this model across to the UK.

Because of this, we don’t charge an extra fee on top of our standard treatment fee, as all our treatment options can be included when we create a personalised treatment plan for a client.

To find out whether shockwave and other physiotherapy treatments are covered by insurance, you should speak to your insurance provider about your specific situation.

Do you want to learn more about how shockwave therapy works and whether it might be the right treatment for you?

Our friendly team of experts are always happy to chat! Book your free, 15-minute initial consultation today and start your journey to a pain-free life.

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