What is Shockwave Therapy?

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is a safe, non-invasive treatment in which a device passes acoustic shockwaves through the skin to the painful or affected area. In many cases, shockwave therapy is a great alternative to more invasive treatments such as pain medication, steroid injections or surgery. Approved by NICE, shockwave therapy is widely used to treat a range of conditions from acute sports injuries to chronic joint and soft tissue pain.

How Does Shockwave Therapy Work?

The radial shockwaves are the strongest at their source and disperse as they are directed into the tissue. They have a maximum penetrating depth of 50mm, so they are usually used to treat shallow or superficial musculoskeletal injuries.

The momentum of the shockwaves creates slight movements in the cells they pass, stretching and deforming them and temporarily increasing their permeability to ions and certain molecules. Substances such as nitric oxide (a vasodilator) and substance P (a growth factor and pain moderator) are also released, among other beneficial chemicals.

The therapeutic effect of shockwave therapy mostly comes from increases in blood circulation in the tissue, delivering more substances involved in repair to the affected site along with metabolic activity. This leads to the onset of the healing process. The shockwaves also overstimulate the nerves – which can reduce sensitivity and pain in chronic conditions such as arthritis and plantar fasciitis.

This video summarises how shockwave therapy can successfully treat common issues.

Accessing Shockwave Therapy?

Several sessions of between 20-30 minutes are required for maximum benefit. Gel will be applied to the treated area, and the shockwave hand piece will deliver the treatment. Discomfort may sometimes occur at the very start but should settle after a few minutes. Reddening of the skin and possible light bruising may occur in the next 48 hours. It is recommended not to take anti-inflammatories after the treatment as this will dampen down the therapy’s objective.

To access shockwave therapy look for a podiatrist or physiotherapist who treats your condition in your area. At Cutting Edge Podiatry, our team of skilled podiatrists and foot care practitioners in central Cambridge will advise on the best course of treatment for your condition.  If shockwave is not be the right option for you, we will offer alternatives options. Read more on our shockwave page or call us if you have any questions on 01233 633 038.