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General Practice 2023

Physiotherapy with shock waves: what it is for and how it works

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Physiotherapy with shock waves: what it is for and how it works
Physiotherapy with shock waves: what it is for and how it works

Shock wave therapy is a non-invasive form of treatment that uses a device, which sends sound waves through the body, to relieve some types of inflammation and stimulate the growth and repair of various types of injuries, especially at the muscular or bone level, and it is important that it is recommended by the physical therapist.

Although it has good results in relieving symptoms, shock wave therapy does not always cure the problem, especially when it involves changes in the bone, such as a spur, which may require surgery.

What is it for

This type of treatment emits waves at a certain frequency that are capable of promoting tissue metabolism activation, and can be used in the treatment of cellulite, tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, bursitis or elbow epicondylitis, for example.This is because the waves emitted by the equipment at the treatment site are capable of:

  • Reduce inflammation on the spot: which allows to relieve swelling and local pain;
  • Stimulate the formation of new blood vessels: facilitates the repair of the lesion, as it increases the amount of blood and oxygen in the region;
  • Increase collagen production: which is important to maintain the repair of muscles, bones and tendons.

Furthermore, this method also reduces the amount of substance P at the site, which is an element that is present in high concentrations in cases of chronic pain.

How it works

Shock wave therapy is practically painless, however, the physical therapist can use an anesthetic ointment to numb the region to be treated, in order to relieve any discomfort caused by the device.

During the procedure, the person must be in a comfortable position that allows the professional to reach the place to be treated well. Then, a gel is applied to the site to facilitate the sliding of the device on the treatment site.

In most cases, it takes 3 to 10 sessions of 5 to 20 minutes to completely end the pain and repair the injury, and the person can go home right after treatment, with no special care required.

When not indicated

Physiotherapy treatment with shock waves is considered quite safe, however, it is important that this therapy is performed by a trained professional, as it is possible to ensure that the equipment is calibrated and the frequency of current suitable for the type of treatment.

It is also recommended that shock wave therapy is not performed over sites such as the lungs, eyes or brain. In addition, it should also be avoided in the belly region in pregnant women or over sites with cancer, as it can stimulate tumor growth.

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