Shockwave Therapy

What Is
Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy is treatment with a device, used along with other physiotherapy treatments, to help encourage healing and can be used to treat a variety of muscular and connective tissue injuries. It is non-invasive, meaning that the treatment occurs entirely on the surface of the skin, and is a conservative treatment option to try as an alternative before considering more invasive options such as injections or surgery. It is a low-risk treatment option that can be useful for managing pain, decreasing stiffness, and improving function.

physical therapy of the knee and the foot with shock wave

What Can Shockwave Therapy Be Used To Treat?

General Indications
  • Trigger Points
  • Chronic Tendinosis
  • Joint Stiffness
  • Muscle Pain
  • Shin Splints
  • Runners’ Knee
  • Jumpers’ Knee
  • ITB Syndrome
  • Quadriceps Tendinosis
Lower Back
  • Chronic Low Back Pain
  • Quadratus Lumborum Pain
  • Back Extensor Pain
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Supraspinatus Tendinosis
  • Biceps Tendinosis
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Morton’s Neuromas
  • Heel spurs
  • Achilles’ Tendonitis
  • Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome
  • Glute Medius/Minimus Tendinosis
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Groin Pain
Upper Back
  • Levator Scapula Tendinosis
  • Upper Traps/Neck Pain
  • Upper Back Extensor Pain
  • Lower Traps Pain
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Golfers’ Elbow
Caucasian woman physiotherapist strectching the leg and knee of a mid-adult chinese female patient sitting on a massage table

What Does Treatment Look Like?

First, you and your physiotherapist will go through an assessment to determine the root cause(s) of your pain or limitations. From there, your physiotherapist will decide on the area that treatment is going to be focused, and the appropriate settings for the device. Next, since shockwave requires the use of a medium to properly transmit the acoustic waves, a gel will be applied to the area treatment area. When asked, it is important to tell your physiotherapist if you have any allergies to creams or gels to ensure that you will not have an allergic reaction to the gel being used for treatment. Finally, the machine is turned on, and your physiotherapist will move the device around the treatment area, which typically lasts about 10-15 minutes in total depending on the area being treated. The sound the device makes is rather loud compared to other treatment options; your physiotherapist will demonstrate the device before treatment to ensure you know exactly what to expect.

How Long Does Shockwave Therapy Take to Work?

Some people see decreased pain and increased function after only one session of shockwave therapy, but that is not a typical result. For most people, gradual decreased pain is more common and tends to take place within 5-6 sessions, with sessions being separated by at least 2 days. By this point, the majority of individuals should be seeing a gradual decrease in their symptoms, while others may be completely pain-free. If by 5 sessions, someone is not seeing any results trending in the right direction, the individual and their physiotherapist should consider shifting focus towards other conservative treatment methods like exercise therapy, manual therapy, acupuncture, etc.

Close up shot of runner's shoes
Mother and Son Hiking in Forest in Summer

How Do I Get the Most Out Of Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave is a great device that can be used to directly treat muscle and connective tissue problems in virtually all areas of the body, but it can work even better when combined with other forms of treatment. Your physiotherapist should always be providing you with some personalized exercises to encourage stretching and strengthening of your muscles depending on what is revealed in the initial and ongoing assessments. For best results, keeping up with exercises consistently during a course of shockwave therapy will keep you moving and increase the chances that treatment is going to be effective for you. Additionally, other physiotherapy techniques such as manual therapy, modalities, acupuncture, etc. may be beneficial depending on what you and your physiotherapist determine to be important in your treatment plan.

At First Line Physiotherapy, shockwave therapy is considered as part of physiotherapy treatment. If you have any other questions about shockwave therapy or would like help in deciding if physiotherapy and shockwave therapy are right for you, please contact us, and a team member would be happy to assist you.