What Is Shockwave Therapy?

Sep 01, 2022
What Is Shockwave Therapy?
There are numerous conditions that can cause foot pain, including diabetic wounds, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and neuromas. It’s not uncommon for individuals to suffer from chronic pain for months or even years before seeking treatment for...

There are numerous conditions that can cause foot pain, including diabetic wounds, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and neuromas. It’s not uncommon for individuals to suffer from chronic pain for months or even years before seeking treatment for fear of needing surgery or being in physical therapy for months. Radial shockwave therapy is an alternative option that provides quick pain relief, which might be best for patients who can’t invest in long-term treatment. 

Continue reading to learn about the benefits of shockwave treatment and how it can be an effective solution for healing foot injuries. 

How Does Shockwave Therapy Work?

Shockwave therapy is a nonsurgical method used to reduce pain and promote healing in injured tissues. Treatment is administered by a doctor using a shockwave device similar to the applicator used in an ultrasound. The procedure sends high-energy shock waves through the body to target painful spots and myoskeletal tissues with a range of chronic conditions.

These sound waves cause microtrauma to the affected area to reduce pain. Causing more trauma to an already painful area may sound counterproductive, but the inflammation caused by the shockwave therapy triggers your body’s natural healing process, pushing it to focus on relieving pain. The length of treatment will depend on the extent of soft tissue damage. Two to three sessions a week are used to treat chronic conditions. However, some patients feel relief after only the first treatment. 

Some conditions shockwave therapy can be used to treat are:

  • Insertional pain
  • Chronic tendinopathy
  • Heel spur
  • Calcific tendinitis
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Medial tibial stress syndrome

Why Doesn’t the Body Treat Foot Pain Without Shockwave Therapy?

If a chronic condition is the cause of your foot pain, your body likely adjusted to the injury and no longer acknowledges that something is wrong with the area. By causing specific biochemicals to be released in your body, shockwave therapy speeds up the healing process in the treated area. 

How Long Does It Take to Recover After Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy is a non-surgical, non-invasive treatment, which means there isn’t much of a recovery period once it’s finished. You can return home and resume normal day-to-day activities right away. For the first 48 hours after treatment, you may want to refrain from engaging in any high-impact physical activity, such as running, or sports that involve using the treated area to ensure it heals correctly. 

What Is Shockwave Therapy?

It’s possible you may experience soreness, swelling, or minor bruising from the shockwaves a couple of hours after receiving treatment. This can make your pain feel worse at first, but it’s a normal part of the healing process. Soreness will usually fade within a day or two. If you start to feel discomfort, you can take pain medication, but avoid using non-steroidal inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen. These can counteract the treatment, which may undo the effects. 

How Effective Is Shockwave Therapy?

Many people who’ve undergone shockwave therapy viewed it as an effective treatment. Studies have shown a 72% to 80% success rate. The treatment has also been approved by the FDA for pain and other health concerns, such as cellulite, erectile dysfunction, and stress fractures. This means the treatment went through rigorous clinical trials before the public had access to it.

The high rates of success and satisfaction from clinical trials and patients may have to do with shockwave therapy’s ability to treat a high number of conditions, and its rank as a non-invasive treatment. The treatment doesn’t require invasion of damaged tissue or the use of anesthetics to be successful. All aspects of treatment are done manually by sending acoustic waves to the targeted location.

Other benefits associated with shockwave therapy include:

Blood Flow Stimulation

Reduced blood flow can lead to health concerns, such as weakened muscles and tissues. The acoustic waves used in this treatment cause greater blood flow stimulation to areas of the body that enhance your natural regenerative abilities. 

Interrupted Pain Neurotransmitters

Treatment interrupts the body’s main pain neurotransmitter from sending messages to nerve receptors in the brain. Since some neurotransmitters are linked to chronic pain, this treatment prevents your body from sending false pain messages. 

Decreased Calcium Buildup

Calcium buildup in the body, especially in the joints, can limit the range of motion, which can lead to stiff or limited movement. Shockwave therapy reduces calcium buildup and helps you gain greater mobility.

What Sports Injuries Can Be Treated With Shockwave Therapy?

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is commonly used by sports medicine specialists to treat athletes with musculoskeletal conditions. These conditions include:

  • Patellar tendinopathy 
  • Lateral elbow epicondylopathy
  • Plantar fasciopathy
  • Hamstring tendinopathy
  • Rotator cuff tendinopathy
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Greater trochanteric pain syndrome
  • Bone stress injuries
  • Medial tibial stress syndrome
  • Other tendinopathies

Shockwave therapy protocols can be adjusted in a sports medicine clinical setting to promote healing in athletes, depending on the type of injury. These changes to the treatment include the number of impulses administered, the type of acoustic waves, how many treatment sessions are necessary and what the post-therapy process looks like. 

Because extracorporeal shockwave therapy is non-surgical, athletes can undergo treatment while the sports season is still in progress. Specialists use this method for in-season athletes to help them get back in the game because the recovery process is minimal. Athletes are usually able to return to their team at the same performance level they maintained before the injury. Attending physical therapy while undergoing shockwave treatment can help patients regain long-term function in the treated area, which makes the healing process even more successful. 

Shockwave Therapy for Foot Pain and Plantar Fasciitis 

At Align Foot and Ankle Center, the doctor provides shockwave therapy for foot pain and plantar fasciitis conditions. While there are a number of treatment options available for foot pain, radial shockwave therapy is one option that provides fast relief and might be the best choice for many patients. It only requires one appointment a week over a 5-week treatment plan regiment and each treatment time is only five minutes. Radial shockwave therapy can be a very convenient option for those suffering from certain types of chronic foot pain.

What Is Shockwave Therapy?

Schedule Treatment for Foot or Ankle Pain in Camarillo or Santa Barbara, CA

Living with foot or ankle pain can result in less mobility and more discomfort, which makes day-to-day life activities harder to get through. If your foot or ankle condition is making it difficult to participate in the hobbies you enjoy, contact us at Align Foot and Ankle Center in Camarillo or Santa Barbara. Schedule an appointment with one of our experienced podiatrists today by calling 805-965-1515 or 805-482-0711 so you can live your life the way you imagine it.