In recent years, Physiotherapy has witnessed significant advancements in therapeutic techniques aimed at reducing chronic and acute pain, accelerating healing, and promoting recovery. One such cutting-edge approach that has gained prominence is shockwave therapy.
This non-invasive treatment has revolutionised the field of physiotherapy, offering a promising solution for various musculoskeletal conditions. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the remarkable potential of shockwave therapy, its application, benefits, risks and its transformative impact on the physiotherapy landscape in Singapore.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (Shockwave Therapy) is a non-invasive treatment modality that uses high-energy sound waves, also known as shockwaves, to stimulate healing in injured or diseased body structures. These shockwaves are generated outside the body (extracorporeal) and directed towards the affected tissues through the skin, hence the name Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy.
Shockwaves as a therapy was first used clinically in the 1980s, to treat urology conditions such as kidney stones. After the success of managing urology conditions, its potential as a non invasive and effective treatment was highlighted and it was then trialled in the orthopaedic sector.
Studies revealed its potential in loosening cement in hip replacements, enhancing osteogenic response, and improving fracture healing. Over the years, it has proven beneficial in treating a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, particularly those involving the tendons and soft tissues.
How does it work?
The therapeutic effects of Shockwaves are attributed to the unique physical characteristics of shockwaves. Shockwaves generate a positive and a negative phase. The positive phase produces direct mechanical forces, while the negative phase creates cavitation and gas bubbles, which implode at high speeds to generate a secondary wave of shockwaves. Interestingly, the peak pressure of shockwaves is approximately 1000 times greater than that of ultrasound waves.
Shockwave therapy exerts its therapeutic effects through several mechanisms, which include neovascularization, cell growth and proliferation, pain reduction, and collagen production.
Shockwaves stimulate the formation of new blood vessels, improving blood flow to the injured area and enhancing tissue healing. This increased blood supply brings essential nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissues, promoting their repair and regeneration.
Cell Growth and Proliferation
The mechanical energy generated by shockwaves can break down scar tissue and promote cell growth and production. This process aids in the proliferation of cells that are crucial for tissue repair, such as tenocytes, which play a vital role in tendon healing.
This therapy can inhibit pain receptors and reduce pain transmission, providing effective relief for individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. By targeting the source of pain, shockwave therapy offers a non-invasive alternative to traditional pain management approaches.
Collagen is a key structural protein responsible for the strength and integrity of tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. Shockwave therapy stimulates collagen synthesis, aiding in the restoration of tissue structure and function. This increased collagen production enhances the strength and resilience of newly formed tissues, promoting long-term healing and preventing future injuries.
Shockwave Therapy stimulates healing at the cellular level by promoting various biological responses. These processes collectively stimulate collagen synthesis and tissue remodelling.
What conditions can be treated?
Shockwave therapy has shown remarkable efficacy in treating various musculoskeletal conditions. By adjusting treatment parameters, such as energy flux density, number of impulses, and the type of shockwave therapy used, physiotherapists can effectively address a wide range of injuries and dysfunctions. Some of the common conditions treated with shockwave therapy include:
- Tendinopathies: Shockwave therapy is highly successful in treating chronic tendinopathies, such as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, Achilles tendonitis, and patellar tendinopathy. By stimulating tendon healing, shockwave therapy provides rapid pain relief and improves tendon function.
- Plantar Fasciitis: Shockwave therapy offers a game-changing solution for individuals suffering from the excruciating pain of plantar fasciitis. By promoting tissue regeneration in the plantar fascia, shockwave therapy significantly reduces pain and improves mobility, allowing patients to regain their active lifestyles.
- Calcific Shoulder Tendinopathy: This painful shoulder condition, characterised by calcium deposits in the shoulder tendons, can be challenging to treat. Shockwave therapy has emerged as a promising non-surgical option to break down these calcifications, rapidly reducing pain and improving shoulder movement, strength, and function.
- Stress Fractures: Shockwave therapy can accelerate the healing process of stress fractures by stimulating bone cell activity and improving blood flow to the affected areas. This aids in the repair and regeneration of the damaged bone, facilitating a faster recovery.
- Myofascial Trigger Points: Myofascial trigger points are tight knots in the muscles that can cause significant pain and discomfort. Shockwave therapy can be highly effective in treating chronic muscle pain and trigger points, providing rapid pain relief and promoting muscle relaxation.
Shockwave Therapy is also beneficial in managing spasticity related to neurological disorders like stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy.
Shockwaves should not be used in several scenarios:
- Over major blood vessels and nerves
- Pacemakers or other implanted devices
- Open wounds
- Joint replacements
- Blood clotting disorders including thrombosis
- Cancerous tissues
- A compromised mental status of the patient and/or the inability to cooperate.
Shockwave Therapy in Physiotherapy
There are several benefits from the addition of shockwaves into the field of physiotherapy. It provides a non-invasive alternative to surgical procedures and steroid injections. The therapy accelerates the body’s normal healing process, reducing pain and discomfort. It is particularly beneficial for patients whose conditions have not responded to conventional treatments, offering a new avenue for pain relief and recovery.
Shockwave therapy has become an indispensable tool in the arsenal of physiotherapists. At Core Fitness, we incorporate Shockwave Therapy into our comprehensive physiotherapy services. It serves as a powerful adjunct to traditional treatments, accelerating the body’s healing process and reducing pain. Our therapists are skilled in administering both focused and radial pressure waves, tailoring the treatment approach to the patient’s specific condition.
Its non-invasive nature, coupled with its remarkable therapeutic effects, makes it an ideal treatment modality for various musculoskeletal conditions. Physiotherapists use shockwave therapy in conjunction with other treatment techniques to optimise patient outcomes and facilitate long-term recovery.
Personalized Treatment Plans
Each patient’s condition is unique, requiring an individualised approach to treatment. Physiotherapists carefully assess the patient’s medical history, perform a thorough physical examination, and develop personalised treatment plans that incorporate shockwave therapy. These treatment plans may include a combination of exercises, manual therapy, and adjunctive modalities to address the underlying causes of the condition and promote optimal healing.
Physiotherapy is a collaborative process that involves active participation from both the therapist and the patient. Physiotherapy sessions provide an opportunity for open dialogue and shared decision-making, allowing patients to actively contribute to their treatment journey. Physiotherapists educate patients about their condition, explain the benefits and potential risks of shockwave therapy, and empower them to make informed decisions about their treatment.
Physiotherapy aims to address not only the physical aspects of an injury or condition but also the psychological and emotional well-being of the patient. Using the shockwaves, when combined with other holistic rehabilitation techniques, helps patients achieve a comprehensive recovery. Physiotherapists provide ongoing support, guidance, and encouragement throughout the rehabilitation process, fostering a positive and nurturing environment for healing.
Revolutionising Physiotherapy in Singapore
Singapore has embraced the transformative potential of this therapy, with physiotherapy clinics incorporating this innovative treatment modality into their practice. The availability of state-of-the-art shockwave therapy equipment and the expertise of highly trained physiotherapists have made Singapore a hub for cutting-edge musculoskeletal rehabilitation.
High Success Rates
Shockwave Therapy has shown excellent success rates in Singapore, with patient outcomes ranging from 80% to 90%. Patients who have undergone shockwave therapy report significant pain reduction and improved functional outcomes, allowing them to return to their daily activities and sports with confidence.
Shockwave therapy offers a non-invasive alternative to surgical interventions, providing patients with a safe and effective treatment option. By avoiding invasive procedures, patients can minimise the risks associated with surgery, such as infection, scarring, and prolonged recovery periods.
As the field of physiotherapy continues to evolve, so does the application of shockwave therapy. Ongoing research and advancements in technology are further enhancing the effectiveness of shockwave therapy, expanding its potential applications in the field of musculoskeletal rehabilitation.
Risks and Side Effects
While Shockwave Therapy is generally safe, some individuals may experience side effects such as discomfort or pain during therapy, post-treatment pain, red skin, swelling, numbness, bruising, increased sensitivity (hyperesthesia), nerve pain (neuralgia), a burning sensation (paraesthesia), nausea, vomiting, joint disorder, dizziness, a reaction on the site of the treatment, sweating, and potential damage to blood vessels.
At Core Fitness, we are committed to providing the best physiotherapy care to our patients. With the integration of Shockwave Therapy, we can offer non-invasive and effective treatment options for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. This revolutionary therapy adds to our already proven methods of Physiotherapy and offers yet another treatment option to get the best outcome for your condition.
If you are seeking a safe and innovative approach to accelerate healing, consider exploring the benefits of shockwave therapy with our dedicated physiotherapists. Contact us to take the first step towards a pain-free, active lifestyle today!