How shockwave therapy can help

Shockwave therapy, formally known as extracorporeal shockwave therapy, is used to treat soft tissue injuries through the use of high-energy sound waves.

It is a quick and completely non-invasive treatment, offering excellent results for tendon injuries. 

If you’re wondering how shockwave therapy can help you, in the hands of our experienced physiotherapists, shockwave therapy in Twickenham can reduce your pain, improve your range of movement and speed up your recovery from a soft tissue injury. 

It is a tried and tested treatment, which is approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. And it’s story begins over 80 years ago.

How it all started

It was during World War II when the effects of shockwaves on the human body became apparent. Doctors noticed that the force of shockwaves from explosions could injure the internal tissues of soldiers who were far enough away that they sustained no external injuries. 

Scientists soon found that shockwaves could cause minor damage to organs, including the brain and lungs. Continued investigation eventually revealed that the power of shockwaves could be harnessed to do good, instead of harm. In the 1980s, shockwave therapy was finally used therapeutically to treat kidney stones. 

It wasn’t long before the benefits of shockwave therapy were realised for soft tissue injuries.

How shockwave therapy can help your recovery

Shockwave therapy can be used to speed your recovery from a range of tendon injuries, often caused by overuse, including: 

  • achilles tendinopathy — damage to the tendon that runs from the back of your lower leg to your heel
  • calcific tendonitis — the formation of calcium deposits in the tendons of your rotator cuff, a group of 4 muscles and their tendons that stabilise your shoulder joint
  • gluteal tendinopathy — damage to the gluteal tendons which connect the gluteal muscles in your buttocks to a bony protrusion on each of your hip bones  
  • lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow — damage to the common extensor tendon which connects your forearm muscles to the outer side of your elbow
  • patellar tendinopathy, also known as jumper’s knee — damage to the tendon that runs from your kneecap to the top of your shin
  • rotator cuff tendinopathy — damage to the tendons that make up your rotator cuff in your shoulder.

Shockwave therapy is also an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis, which occurs when the thick band of connective tissue that runs along the sole of your foot (plantar fascia) is overloaded, causing heel pain. 

When shockwave therapy is used to treat these conditions, blood flow is improved and collagen production is increased, both of which help promote the healing process.

What to expect from your shockwave therapy?

During your treatment, a gel is first applied to your skin over the affected area. Next, a handheld device is placed on your skin and moved along the affected area as high-energy sound waves are emitted from it according to a specific treatment programme. 

In most cases, you will need 3–6 sessions, spaced at weekly intervals for the first 3 treatments and then at greater intervals as the tissue repair advances. 

Are there any side effects?

During your shockwave therapy you may experience a little discomfort but your physiotherapist can adjust the dose of shockwave treatment to reduce this effect. 

After your treatment, side effects are most often mild and disappear in 5–10 days. They can include reddening, minor swelling, slight bruising, red spots (petechiae) and marks on your skin for up to 2 days after treatment. 

If you experience side effects but still need further sessions, your next session will be delayed until these side effects have resolved. If you’re struggling with a tendon injury, you may find relief with shockwave therapy administered by one of our highly experienced physiotherapists. Call us on 020 8898 1231 to find out how shockwave therapy can help you.