If you’re one of the 100 million Americans that live with chronic pain every year, any innovative treatment advances are exciting and inspire hope for relief. While using sound waves as non-invasive treatment options is nothing new (the first medical treatments to utilize shockwaves were lithotripsy, using sound to dissolve kidney stones without surgery), advancements in the understanding of the role of inflammation and soft tissues in healing have led to more effective applications in the treatment of chronic pain and injury rehabilitation. What is Shockwave Therapy, how does it work, and is it right for you?
Making Waves with Shockwave Therapy
According to the American Orthopaedic Food and Ankle Society, Shockwave Therapy refers to a non-invasive method for sending high-energy acoustic waves (shock waves) through the skin and into soft tissues like muscles, tendons and fascia to alleviate chronic pain and to increase blood flow. Using a probe, an electrical charge is applied to the skin over an area of concern, and the resulting mechanical pressure pulse spreads through the soft and connective tissues, expanding as a wave and creating a force on them that encourages healing. Shockwave Therapy is one of the few non-surgical alternatives that work best on people with chronic pain conditions that haven’t responded to conservative treatments.
It’s not entirely clear how shock waves may induce healing for some people, but many widely held theories are available:
- Sending shock waves into soft tissues causes inflammation, increasing blood flow to the area and encouraging the body’s natural healing mechanism by stimulating production of the cells that make up connective tissues.
- According to Dr. Othmar Wess, Ph.D., a physicist in the field of medical shock wave application, shock waves serve to over stimulate nerves that are constantly sending pain sensations to the brain, diminishing their signals and disrupting “associative pain memory”, or the nervous pathways developed through chronic pain.
- The mechanical pressure waves serve to break up calcifications in micro-tears or other trauma to tendons, and increase collagen production.
- Shock waves release trigger points, which are the principal cause of pain in the back, neck, shoulder and limbs.
Are You a Candidate?
Shockwave therapy is most often recommended for conditions like jumpers knee, a frozen or painful shoulder, tennis elbow, heel spurs, insertional pain (caused by repetitive motions that strain specific tendons), chronic tendinitis or tendinosis (inflammation or damage on a cellular level), shin splints, calcifications and hip pain. Most patients experience drastic reductions in the amount of pain experienced and significant improvement in mobility and functionality. The best way to determine if Shockwave Therapy is right for you is to contact a medical professional for an analysis of your chronic pain condition.
Considering Innovative Alternatives as Chronic Pain Treatments?
At Arkansas Pioneer, we are proud to offer fast and effective relief options for chronic pain, and customized recovery plans to get you back to an active, healthy lifestyle as soon as possible. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!