One in five American adults suffer from chronic pain, and this can wreak havoc on your day to day life. It may make performing at work difficult or have a serious impact on your emotional and mental health. This is probably why there are over 200,000 physical therapists working in the USA today. But what if we told you there was a way to reduce your chronic pain rather than just managing it with exercises? Shockwave treatment is a non-invasive treatment that helps to reduce chronic pain for 92% of patients. Want to know more about how shockwave therapy could help to reduce your chronic pain? Then you’re in the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about shockwave treatment, how it works, and what it could do for you!
What is Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave therapy is an effective form of treatment for chronic pain relief. You may also hear people refer to it as extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT).
It transmits waves, using a special gel, through your skin into the affected area of your body. This prompts the body’s natural healing processes, which may not be working effectively.
You can receive treatment as a physical therapist’s clinic, although some practitioners also offer at-home treatments.
One of its many uses is on musculoskeletal conditions. This can seriously help to reduce your pain and improve your mobility. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the conditions that shockwave therapy can be most effective for.
What Can Shockwave Treatment Help With?
Shockwave therapy can be used to target a range of issues, many of which affect the connective tissue in your body.
It can really help with problems affecting your feet, hips, elbows, knees, and back. These include:
- Heel spurs
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendonitis
- Tennis or golfers elbow
- Calcific tendonitis
- Patellar tendonitis
- Shin splits
- Iliotibial band friction syndrome
- Chronic muscular pain
- Back pain in the lumbar and cervical regions
In other areas of medicine, shockwave treatment is also used to break up kidney stones and gallstones.
How Long Does Shockwave Therapy Take to Work?
As we’ve already mentioned, shockwave therapy is a non-surgical procedure that you can have done at home or in a clinic. For the best results, most physiotherapists recommend having treatment sessions once a week. How many sessions you have depends a lot on your needs and conditions.
Most patients have weekly appointments for three to six weeks. However, some patients have regular appointments for longer periods.
The treatment sessions themselves don’t last long and depend on the area they are targeting. Generally, then take anything between four and eighteen minutes maximum. A higher intensity shockwave session will be over quicker, while lower frequency waves will take longer to work.
Most people feel the benefits of this therapy within a few weeks of their first appointment. However, for some, this can take a little longer.
If you aren’t feeling any benefits from your therapy, then it’s important to discuss this with your physiotherapist. It may be that you need to increase the intensity of your shockwave treatment. They’ll also be able to discuss alternative pain management options to make you feel more comfortable.
What Are the Benefits of Getting Shockwave Therapy?
There are lots of benefits of using shockwave therapy to deal with chronic pain.
First and foremost, it is an effective non-surgical method of dealing with chronic pain. This means it doesn’t come with any of the same risks or side effects of surgery. In fact, it is so non-invasive that you can have it done in a clinic or in the comfort of your own home!
No surgery also means that you won’t have to take any drugs in the lead up to your treatment or during recovery. This means it is an excellent option for people with specific drug allergies.
It is also much more cost-effective than opting for expensive surgical options. This is because shockwave therapy is extremely flexible so that it can be used on many different types of injuries or pain. Your physical therapist may even let you opt for pay-as-you appointments so you can have them to suit your budget.
On top of all this, the side effects of shockwave therapy are minimal. To understand this better, let’s take a look at some of these in more depth.
Potential Shockwave Therapy Side Effects
When it comes to side effects, one of the first things people ask is ‘is shock wave therapy painful?’ The answer is that it can be, and a lot of this depends on how intense the wave frequencies you’re using are.
Shockwave therapy can cause pain, mainly because it stimulates inflammation in the targeted area. This is important for the healing process but can be uncomfortable.
Fortunately, you can manage the discomfort caused by lowering the frequency of the waves during a treatment. This will mean you have to have longer treatment sessions or more of them. However, it will mean you feel comfortable during them.
Other potential side effects of shockwave treatment include:
- Mild bruising
- Numbness or tingling in the targeted area
These side effects shouldn’t last long, and most people don’t need to take time off work to recover from shockwave treatment. If your treatment covers a large area of your body or affects an area you use a lot at work, then you may want to take the day off.
Your physical therapist will also be able to recommend the best ways to manage any side effects. If any side effects continue for longer than three days, you should discuss this with them as soon as possible.
Preparing for Shockwave Therapy
Before you go in for your first session of shockwave treatment, you will need to have a consultation with your physical therapist or doctor. They will assess your cause of chronic pain and help you decide if this is the right course of treatment for you.
Unfortunately, some people are not eligible for shockwave treatment. This includes anyone who:
- Has a circulation or nerve disorder
- Has an infection in the affected area
- Has, or has had, a bone tumor
- Has a metabolic bone condition
You also cannot have treatment if you are pregnant or if the skin in the targeted area is broken.
A few people with circulatory disorders may still be eligible for treatment. So it’s worth discussing this option with your doctor if you are taking blood-thinning medication. They’ll quickly be able to tell you if it could work for you.
The beauty of shockwave therapy is that you have to do very little preparation for it. The most important thing to do is to avoid taking anti-inflammatory medication for two weeks before your appointment. Beyond that, you simply need to turn up on the day wearing comfy clothes.
Depending on where you’re having treatment, you may also want to organize someone to help take you to and from your appointment. For your first appointment, it’s a good idea to book the whole day off work. That way, if you do experience any side effects, you won’t have to phone in sick at the last minute.
Recovering From Shockwave Therapy
The recovery time from shockwave therapy is also minimal. In fact, most people can walk in and out of their appointment in the space of an hour!
Even if you do experience side effects, these shouldn’t affect your mobility, but they might distract you when driving. This is why it’s a good idea to have support if you’re planning to drive home from your appointment.
All side effects should wear off after 48-hours, but you can also take pain relief medication to manage them. However, it’s important that you don’t take anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen. This will slow down the healing process and make your treatment less effective.
Ice also acts as an anti-inflammatory, so make sure you keep ice packs off your treated area after your appointment.
You should be able to go back to work straight away without any difficulty. That said, it is important that you don’t engage in any strenuous or high-impact activities for at least 48 hours.
Beyond that, you’re good to go!
Get Help From Shockwave Treatment
When it comes to chronic pain, you don’t have to suffer in silence anymore. Shockwave treatment provides a quick and non-invasive way to get to the heart of the problem.
Get in touch today to find out more about shockwave treatment from one of our team. We’re here to help!