Radial Shockwave Therapy: What You Should Know

Radial shockwave therapy (RSWT) is considered one of the leading treatments for painful shoulder, jumper’s knee, chronic tendinopathy, foot pain, hip pain, tennis elbow, and other issues affecting the soft tissues. 

However, not much is known about the treatment by the general public. If you haven’t heard of radial shockwave therapy, below are some of the basics about this effective treatment you should know about.

What is radial shockwave therapy?

In radial shockwave therapy, high frequency percussion waves are used to transmit energy to soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia) and painful spots with subacute, subchronic, and chronic conditions.

Energy generated by shockwave therapy has been proven to promote reparative processes as well as regeneration of the tendons, bones, and other soft tissues. Shockwaves are characterised by their frequency (Hz) and power (mJ) that are delivered into the tissues. 

The percussion waves from shockwave therapy interact with the tissue and aids in scar tissue breakdown, mobility restoration, analgesia, accelerated cell growth,  improved local blood circulation and tissue repair. 

How long has radial shockwave therapy been in use?

Radial shockwave therapy (RSWT) has been used in Europe since around the mid 80s, and were originally developed to treat kidney stones. As equipment has been improved and become more available to health care practitioners, costs of this unique therapy have come down in recent years. 

RSWT in combination with other forms of treatment may greatly reduce the recovery times (and overall costs) for patients suffering from a range of conditions. 

What are some of the common conditions treated by radial shockwave therapy?

Radial shockwave therapy is considered an effective treatment option for chronic conditions (more than 3 months) that have been resistant to other therapies. Some of the conditions treated using radial shockwave therapy include Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, epicondylitis (golfer’s and tennis elbow), jumper’s knee, and calcific tendonitis of the rotator cuff in the shoulder.

RSWT is also used as an effective therapy for sacroiliac pain, chronic low back pain, and osteoarthritis in the knees. In cases where other conservative options like traditional physiotherapy have failed or only been partially helpful, radial shockwave therapy might be the answer you are looking for. This therapy has been proven to help many patients avoid invasive surgery and avoid possible complications that can result. 

How many treatments will it take?

Most conditions will require three to six sessions done at least once per week. Many patients report relief within the first few sessions. Complete healing, however, often occurs over the next 12 weeks and the best results are experienced thereafter.

Stubborn  or very long lasting conditions may require more sessions to achieve the desired result. It is best to consult with your qualified health care professional to evaluate your needs.

What is the therapy sequence of radial shockwave therapy?

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that can be carried out in 3 simple steps.

First, the location of the area to be treated is located through a detailed history and careful palpation (evaluation) of the tissues to be treated. It is important that the accurate location is identified in order to deliver the therapy precisely.

Second, a conductive gel is applied to the identified area. The use of gel is often necessary to transfer percussion waves more smoothly and efficiently.

Third, the shockwave applicator is pushed slightly against the area that needs treatment and the start button is pressed. Each tissue being worked on will receive a prescribed number of shocks each session. In total most patients will have around 2,000-3,000 shocks per session that will take around 5-10 minutes to administer. 

Will the treatment hurt?

Some patients may experience a very minimal feeling of discomfort during the treatment, depending on the level of pain already present at the treatment area. However, since treatment will only last a short time, the level of discomfort is generally tolerable. In addition, the intensity of the treatment can be adjusted when needed. 

Many patients will experience some analgesic effect right after treatment, and may have delayed onset soreness similar to having a strong massage for up to 1 or 2 days afterwards, depending on the case. Usually the patient will become more comfortable with each successive treatment over the number of weeks prescribed for their condition. 

Author Since: Jan 09, 2020

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