Also known as corporeal shockwave therapy, acoustic shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment procedure that entails using strong shockwaves of energy, which expand within the body leading to revascularization. Shockwave therapy creates a series of low energy acoustic pulsations in a localized area. These pulsations are applied directly to the damaged or injured tissue through the patient's skin. The concept of acoustic shockwaves emerged from the discovery that focused sound waves could effectively break down gallstones and kidney stones. In different scientific studies on treating chronic conditions, acoustic shockwave stands out as an effective treatment procedure.
At Suarez Physical Therapy in Las Vegas, NV, we use acoustic shockwave to treat a lingering discomfort or pain resulting from an injury or illness. You do not have to rely on pain medication after an injury. Acoustic shockwave therapy triggers the body's natural healing response. After undergoing the first acoustic shockwave treatment, many people report reduced pain and improved mobility.
Understanding How Acoustic Shockwave Therapy Works
Acoustic shockwave therapy continues to gain popularity in physical therapy. This treatment option is useful in treating a wide range of muscle or skeletal conditions, mainly those involving connective tissues like tendons and ligaments. Acoustic shockwave provides an ideal treatment method for stubborn chronic tendon therapy. Some tendon conditions are persistent and do not seem to respond to conventional treatment methods.
Acoustic shockwave has proven effective in treating stubborn tendinitis conditions. This treatment option is particularly beneficial to people with chronic tendinitis. Chronic tendonitis is a condition that has lingered for more than six weeks. We recommend shockwave therapy to patients with “tennis/golfers” elbow, rotator cuff shoulder tendinitis, Achilles tendinitis, jumper’s knee, plantar fasciitis, or muscular trigger points. These pains are often because of sports injury, repetitive strain, or overuse. When all other treatment options fail to relieve pain resulting from the outlined conditions, acoustic shockwave therapy often proves effective.
When you first visit Suarez Physical Therapy, an experienced physical therapist will first assess you to determine whether you are a good candidate for acoustic shockwave therapy. Our experts will ensure that they first educate you about the condition that you suffer from. They will also guide you on the activities you can perform in conjunction with the shockwave therapy treatment. Activities that you can undertake alongside the shockwave therapy include specific therapeutic exercises and activity modification. Our experts will consider all factors that could be contributing to your pain, including posture and other muscle weakness or tightness.
We will recommend several shockwave therapy sessions until you recover fully. Typically, shockwave therapy is done once a week for three to six weeks until a patient recovers fully. The duration might be longer than this or even shorter depending on how a patient responds to the treatment. While undergoing acoustic shockwave, it is normal for a patient to experience mild discomfort. However, the discomfort is mild and only lasts for 4 to 5 seconds. Our physical therapist can adjust the intensity of the treatment to relieve discomfort.
Conditions That We Treat With Acoustic Shockwave Therapy
At Suarez Physical Therapy, we use acoustic shockwave therapy to treat a wide range of conditions and relieve patients from chronic pain. Some of the conditions that we treat with acoustic shockwave therapy include:
- Foot pain and injuries including plantar fasciitis, heels spurs, and Achilles tendinitis
- Elbow conditions like golfer and tennis elbow
- Shoulder injuries like calcific tendinitis of the rotator cuff muscles
- Knee issues like patellar tendinitis, hip bursitis
- Shin splints on the lower leg
- Iliotibial band friction syndrome of the upper leg
- Neck / cervical or back / lumbar spine pain and chronic muscular pains
People suffering from a wide range of sports injuries benefit from our acoustic shockwave therapy treatment programs.
The Leading Benefit of Acoustic Shockwave Therapy
Here are some of the leading benefits of acoustic shockwave therapy:
- Given the benefits that patients derive from it, acoustic shockwave therapy has an excellent cost to effectiveness ratio.
- It is a non-invasive yet effective procedure for treating back, shoulder, heel, elbow, and knee pain.
- This treatment procedure does not involve the use of drugs or anesthesia.
- Unlike other pain treatment methods, acoustic shockwave therapy has minimal side effects.
- It can be applied to various fields, including sports medicine, rehabilitation, and orthopedics.
- Scientific research indicates that acoustic shockwave therapy has a positive impact on managing chronic or acute pain.
After treatment, it is normal for a patient to experience mild tenderness, soreness, or swelling. The side effects may last for several days after the treatment. The side effects usually occur because acoustic shockwave therapy often triggers an inflammatory response. However, you should take anti-inflammatory medication, as recommended by your medical provider, if you experience the outlined side effects. You should understand that your body is trying to heal naturally. Taking non-inflammatory medication might slow down the natural healing process. Patients can go back to their everyday lives almost immediately after completing the treatment.
Is every person a right candidate for acoustic shockwave therapy? Shockwave therapy is not recommended for patients with a nerve or circulation disorder. The treatment is also not appropriate for a person with infections, metabolic bone conditions, or bone tumors.
Shockwave therapy is also not ideal for people suffering from open wounds or open tumors. It might also not be ideal to use the therapy on a pregnant patient. Other patients who may not be eligible for the acoustic shockwave therapy include people on blood-thinning medication and people with circulatory disorders.
How Acoustic Shockwave Therapy Works
Patients can benefit from both low-energy and high-energy shockwave therapy. Both the low-energy and the high-energy shockwave treatments effectively treat plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, and calcific tendinitis. The low-energy shockwave therapy is administered as a series of three or more treatment sessions. The low-level shockwave therapy is mildly painful or not painful at all.
Shockwave therapy works by inducing a micro trauma to the body tissues. This microtrauma induces natural healing by the body. The body's natural healing process includes an increased delivery of micronutrients to the affected areas and enhanced blood vessel formation. The inducement of the micro-trauma helps to stimulate the repair process and relieve all pain symptoms.
Different investigators have reported the effectiveness of acoustic shockwave therapy in treating a wide range of neuromusculoskeletal conditions. In 2000, the FDA approved the use of shockwaves in the treatment of conditions like plantar fasciitis. Since that time, numerous developments have taken place and have proven that acoustic shockwave therapy effectively treats a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders.
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy uses pressurized air (pneumatic technology) to cause or induce a microtrauma. Many reports indicate the unmatched effectiveness of acoustic therapy in treating a wide range of conditions. The treatment is particularly useful in treating plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, elbow medial and lateral epicondyle osteophytes and calcific tendonitis. The best thing about acoustic shock therapy is that it's a non-invasive treatment that comes in handy for hard-to-treat conditions. Some neuromusculoskeletal conditions do not seem to improve with conventional treatments. Evidence points that acoustic shockwave therapy might be the solution. Shockwave therapy eliminates the need for surgical treatments. This is a tremendous advantage because surgical treatments often have severe complications. Few complications are reported with the use of shockwave therapy. Many patients who undergo surgery have to deal with constant pain, wounds, and infections. Acoustic shockwave therapy eliminates the outlined risks.
Mechanism of Action
Our physical therapist uses a special device to deliver acoustic energy through the skin to the injured or affected part. The shockwaves are not electric but mechanical. The shockwaves cause controlled microscopic damage (micro-trauma) to the tissues. This trauma encourages the body to respond by enhancing metabolism and blood circulation to the affected area. The shockwaves also desensitize the nerve endings, and this helps to provide instant pain relief. In some instances, the shockwaves could cause a breakdown of disorganized tissue and calcifications.
Acoustic shockwave therapy leads to revascularization. Revascularization is the respiration of healthy blood flow to the body parts leading to pain relief and tissue repair. The main strengths of acoustic shock therapy are restored mobility and fast pain relief. Acoustic shockwave therapy provides speedy recovery without the need for surgery or the use of pain medication.
As a patient undergoes acoustic shock therapy treatment, the high-energy acoustic wave helps to relieve painful areas. It reduces sub-acute, subchronic, and chronic conditions. The energy wave enhances regeneration, reparative, and revascularization processes in the tendons, bones, and soft tissues. Shockwave therapy is applied in different fields, including urology, sports medicine, physical therapy, and orthopedic.
Athletic Recovery Methods
At Suarez Physical Therapy, we specialize in athletic recovery methods. Our physical therapists employ sport-specific training protocols applicable in different sports disciplines. We not only enhance recovery but also aim at preventing future injuries. Our treatment methods help athletes to transition back into action within a short period. Shockwave therapy effectively treats conditions like hamstring, rotator cuff, Achilles, and patellar tendinitis’. At Suarez Physical Therapy, we rely on acoustic shockwave therapy to treat jumper's knee, tennis or golfer's elbow, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis pain, and shoulder tendinopathy.
Athletes and players benefit immensely from acoustic shockwave therapy. For instance, a player might be experiencing a jumper's knee that might be inhibiting their ability to play. After trying all the standard non-operative treatment options, acoustic shockwave therapy is often the final option. When all treatment options fail, athletes may have to consider more invasive procedures like surgery or stop playing. Invasive treatment methods have high costs, more extended recovery periods, and increased risks. Even if the invasive procedures may be effective, they often require time off, which could significantly affect an athlete's season. Acoustic shockwave therapy provides athletes with a quicker yet non-invasive treatment option that is not season-ending.
Studies on the Effectiveness of Acoustic shockwave Therapy
A study on acoustic shockwave therapy's effectiveness was published in the National Institute of Health in 2018. The study sought to find out about the efficacy of shockwave therapy in tendinopathy. The study revealed that acoustic shockwave is an effective modality that comes in handy in relieving pain intensity. Shockwave therapy also enhances functionality and quality of life. The study revealed that acoustic shockwave therapy is effective in treating:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Elbow tendinopathy and rotator cuff tendinopathy
According to the study, acoustic shockwave therapy could be done on an outpatient basis with no patient restrictions. The treatment procedure did not indicate significant side effects on the patients who took part in the study. Acoustic shockwave therapy proved to be safe and effective in treating all the tendinopathies examined. If a patient fails to respond to the conventional treatment for all the tendinopathies outlined above, they can rely on acoustic shockwave therapy.
This alternative treatment method effectively reduces pain, enhances the functionality and quality of life. During one of the study's measurements, 117 patients were diagnosed with tennis elbow (elbow tendinopathy). This is an injury to the outer elbow tendon. The patients aged between 40 and 59 years were subjected to three shockwave therapies for three weeks. The patterns recorded a decrease in quality of life impairment and functional impairment.
In another study published in the National Institute of Health in 2015, eight athletes underwent shockwave therapy for three weeks. The athletes suffered from lower back muscle injuries and pain. The athletes were of an average age of 29 years. The study sought to establish the effectiveness of shockwave therapy in treating chronic muscle injury. As the athletes underwent the shockwave therapy, the researchers recorded the employees' recovery, including their ability to return to sports and the results of ultrasound images. Every athlete portrayed an increase in muscle strength by the end of the trial. After about eight weeks of undergoing acoustic shockwave therapy, the eight athletes had recovered enough to resume their sport disciplines.
The study concluded that acoustic shockwave therapy is effective in treating long-term muscle injury. The treatment showed effectiveness in patients with chronic injuries of the muscles. There was a decrease in pain and an increase in muscle strength after acoustic shockwave therapy sessions.
Renowned elite athletes worldwide have relied on acoustic shockwave therapy for the treatment of muscle injury and pain. For instance, Dwayne Wade, the Miami Heat all-star, suffered an injury on his left knee in 2008. The player revealed that he relied on shockwave therapy to treat the injury. He relied on high-powered shockwave therapy that has also proved effective for other athletes. Many athletes rely on shock wave therapy to treat injuries when all other forms of treatments fail.
How Long the Treatment Takes
How long does an acoustic shockwave treatment take? The treatment period will vary depending on several factors, including the extent of the injury. When a patient first visits Suarez Physical Therapy, the first step will be to identify the injury's specific location. Most typical injuries are on the heel or the elbow. The patient is then positioned accordingly, depending on the extremity of the injury. For instance, if a patient has suffered an injury on the foot, our therapist will position the patient face down.
The patient will remain in a seated position if they suffer an injury in the elbow. The physical therapist will then identify the area with bone spurs and mark them with the letter “X”. Areas with hyper calcification, which is the abnormal buildup of calcium in the body tissue, will be identified. The first acoustic shockwave therapy session is often light. The soft exposure sweeps the area that requires treatment. After the sweep up, the therapist will make a localized hold of the Shockwave on the target area, and it will remain there for 30 to 60 seconds. The therapist will finally ice the extremities.
The period that a patient needs to undergo shockwave therapy will depend on the extremity of the injury and the severity. An injury on the heel may require 6 to 7 weeks. However, the treatment might take longer depending on the identification of bone spurs. If there is more than one bone spur, the treatment sessions may take between 7 and 12 sessions.
An acoustic shockwave treatment session is often short, usually lasting between 5 to 7 minutes. A patient may experience a feeling of a jackhammer in the area being treated. The shockwave therapy's sound waves will help break down any scar tissues, adhesions, bone spurs, and tight muscles that could be causing the patient's pain.
According to Suarez, our founder, acoustic shockwave therapy is also suitable for trigger points. If a patient has tight muscle bands that require to be released, shockwave therapy is ideal and will help address the points leading to muscle tightness.
Treatment Progression and Return to Play Guidelines
One of the most significant advantages of shockwave therapy is that it is not painful. Many patients point out that they don't experience any pain while undergoing acoustic shockwave therapy. Some people may experience mild discomfort, but this fades away quickly. How long it takes for the treatment's benefits to kick in will depend on the severity of the injury.
Different people respond to treatment differently. Therefore, different patients will have different recovery periods. The hyperstimulation of the tissues during treatment usually creates temporary anesthesia, giving patients an incredible feeling after treatment. This anesthesia-like feeling could last for days or even weeks.
Find Acoustic Shockwave Services Near Me
You do not have to live with pain from muscle injuries and tendinopathy anymore. For the best acoustic shockwave services in Las Vegas, you can count on Suarez Physical Therapy. Contact us at 702-368-6778 and speak to one of our physical therapists today.