HelloPhysio speaks with Charlton Lawson, a former NCAA Division I swimmer, about his rehabilitation after a recent Grade 3 tear in his Achilles tendon and damaged posterior...
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy
Shockwave Therapy in Physiotherapy
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy uses shockwaves outside of the body to harness intense short energy waves to reduce pain and heal chronic orthopedic conditions. It is a non-invasive but powerful treatment that delivers “shockwaves” to injured soft tissue to reduce pain and promote healing. ESWT focuses on delivering low-energy sound or acoustic waves, instead of electrical waves. Mechanical energy causes changes in the cellular skeleton, which in turn creates a reaction in the cell core and corresponding cell structures. This results in a response that leads to improved healing.
HelloPhysio offers both focal and radial shockwave therapy. The technology penetrates the skin and radiates through the affected muscle, joint, or tendon. This allows for treatment to only the areas that are injured or damaged, making this a vital targeted therapy.
When going for a shockwave treatment, your therapist will utilize a hand-held device attached to a machine that produces sound waves from compressed air. Ultrasound gel will be placed on the skin before the treatment to allow the shockwaves to penetrate through the skin. Light pressure will also be applied as the device moves over the injured area.
The sound waves will increase blood flow in the area that may also cause some localized irritation, which drives positive cell repair and regeneration. Your body will work to heal the localized irritation following treatment. Any damaged or wounded tissues can then start to heal, resulting in a reduction in pain and discomfort.
Shockwave therapy is also useful in breaking down scar tissue that may contribute to pain. Scar tissue tends not to be elastic, leading to immobility in the surrounding tissues. Using sound waves will help to break down scar tissues, leading to enhanced movement and less discomfort.
ESWT is a great rehabilitation treatment option for patients whose injuries do not respond to first-line treatments such as rest, ice, or braces. It is also an alternative for those who do not want to undergo more invasive therapy options.
A shockwave therapy session takes between 15 to 20 minutes. Patients may feel a little pain, but the physiotherapist will manage the discomfort. Wearing loose clothing will allow for a greater level of comfort. Some conditions may require more physiotherapy sessions based upon individualized treatment plans.
Focal Shockwave Therapy
Focal Shockwave Therapy uses a smaller focal point, allowing for greater accuracy and treatment depth. It can reach up to a 12cm depth depending on the attachment used, and emits fast impulses with high energy density to allow for precise delivery to the targeted area. This treatment method creates shockwaves using a cylindrical coil that electromagnetically causes opposing magnetic fields when a beneficial current is applied.
When a pressure wave is created in the surrounding fluid medium, the shockwaves have a low amount of energy dispersed, limiting any damage done to the skin and other soft tissues. Focal shockwave is best used for targeted areas at a deeper level such as tissue close to the bone, calcifications, or delayed unions and non-unions.
Radial Shockwave Therapy
Radial Shockwave Therapy covers a larger treatment area of 3 to 4cm depth level. This type of treatment is best for treating larger areas as it uses a slower impulse at a lower energy density. Radial shockwave technology is a pneumatic system that uses compressed air at a high speed. The shockwaves are then transmitted to the tissue where it moves radially outward into the tissue.
Shockwaves lose power the deeper they penetrate into the body. Radial Shockwave Therapy is best for superficial targeted areas such as plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, or Achilles tendon. This treatment method is also recommended for treating muscle chains as it can break up adhesion and trigger points, allowing for myofascial release.
Radial Shockwave Therapy does not go as deep at the cellular level as Focal Shockwave Therapy. The radial shockwave does cover a larger area for repair but the wave will reach the tissue level only. It is here where the tendon and bone are treated. Old wounds can be retreated by removing scars and calcification from the bone and begin a healing of the tendon to strengthen and form around the retreated bone.
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HelloPhysio paves the way with both traditional and the latest technologies to reduce pain, re-establish movement patterns, and activate muscles so that you can return to your daily life.
Physiotherapy treatment plans are different for each client customized to fit an individual’s needs, injury and lifestyle. Physiotherapy treatments from HelloPhysio may be eligible for claims through your health insurance provider.
Contact us today to arrange a session with a senior physiotherapist to discuss a targeted treatment plan.
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