Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (often referred to as “Shockwave Therapy”) is a newer treatment approach for various musculoskeletal disorders. A large number of studies, including systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials have been published in reputable peer reviewed scientific journals supporting the efficacy of this treatment approach. For this reason, shockwave therapy has become very popular. The literature is most supportive of its use in treating tendon disorders such as tennis elbow, Achilles tendinitis (tendinopathy / tendinosis), certain rotator cuff injuries and plantar fasciitis (fasciosis).
At Burlington Sports Therapy, we offer Shockwave Therapy using the Swiss Dolorclast device. It has been used in the majority of independent scientific studies, so our clinic is able to review the best literature and accurately match the methodology used in successful clinical trials. To perform the treatment, the practitioner places the treatment head on the area of injury, and compressed air accelerates a projectile at high speed. This energy is converted into a shock wave delivered to the target tissue through the skin. The impulses are delivered at various frequencies and pressure, depending on the tolerance of the patient.
How Does Shockwave work?
There are two proposed mechanisms of how shockwave works. One is mechanical. This means that the actual pressure waves shake the tissue (like a jackhammer breaks up concrete). The shockwave creates these tiny little gas bubbles (called “cavitation”), which collapse and create a shear force in the tissue.
The other mechanism is biological, which is an alteration in the activity of the cells. This occurs through “mechanotransduction”; physical forces across the membrane of a cell leading to a host of changes in cellular activity.
Simply put, the shockwaves create both chemical and physical changes in the tissue being treated. You could say that the cells are mildly damaged in a very controlled manner so that we can eliminate the unwanted tissue (such as scar tissue) and stimulate a new process of cellular recovery.
The Benefits of Shockwave
- Reduced pain
- Reduced neurogenic inflammation
- Improved tendon function (gliding)
- Improved tendon structure (tendon remodelling)
- Improved blood circulation to tissue
- Muscle relaxation
- Destruction of calcifications within tendons
Is There Research to Support Shockwave?
There are over 100 studies that have looked at Shockwave Therapy as a treatment modality and the evidence for its use in treating tendon disorders is impressive. At Burlington Sports Therapy, we delayed offering this device until we were comfortable with the amount of literature supporting its use. We then chose the device that has been used in the majority of the research studies published so we can exactly replicate the protocols used.
What Conditions Does Shockwave Treat?
The strongest evidence in support of shockwave appears to be in the management of various tendon disorders. Specifically, those conditions include but are not limited to plantar fasciitis (fasciosis), elbow tendinopathy (such as tennis elbow), achilles tendinopathy and rotator cuff tendinopathy / calcific tendinopathy. If you’re unsure as to whether shockwave is suitable for your condition, please give us a call. At Burlington Sports Therapy, we have the experience and education to assist you in choosing the treatments that will be safe as well as effective for you.
Is Shockwave Therapy Painful?
Shockwave therapy can be uncomfortable. We try to match the settings and protocols used in the best randomized controlled trials (that showed a positive outcome) however treatment is only ever delivered at a patients tolerance level.
What is the Cost of Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave Therapy at Burlington Sports Therapy using the Swiss Dolorclast device is $100 per visit. This treatment can be performed by a physiotherapist or a chiropractor so patients with extended health insurance can utilize those areas of funding. Please clarify with our reception when scheduling your appointment which practitioner type works best for your coverage.