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Radial Shockwave Therapy: A Modern Approach to Pain Management

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

As a physiotherapist dedicated to improving the well-being of my patients, I am constantly exploring new and innovative methods to address pain and musculoskeletal conditions. In recent years, radial shockwave therapy has gained popularity as a non-invasive, effective treatment option. In this blog post, I will delve into the merits of radial shockwave therapy, backed by a review of the existing literature, to help you better understand its potential benefits.

Understanding Radial Shockwave Therapy

Radial shockwave therapy is a non-surgical and non-invasive treatment option that uses high-energy acoustic waves to stimulate the body's natural healing processes. It is most commonly used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, including tendinopathies, calcific shoulder lesions, and plantar fasciitis. The therapy works by applying these acoustic waves directly to the affected area, promoting blood flow and tissue regeneration.


A Review of the Literature


To assess the merits of radial shockwave therapy, let's examine some key findings from existing research studies:

  1. Efficacy in Treating Tendinopathies: Tendinopathies, which often result in chronic pain, have been a significant focus of radial shockwave therapy research. A study published in the "American Journal of Sports Medicine" (2007) found that shockwave therapy provided significant pain reduction and improved function in patients with chronic patellar tendinopathy. Similar studies on conditions like lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and Achilles tendinopathy have reported favorable outcomes.

  2. Reduction in Calcific Shoulder Lesions: Calcific shoulder lesions can lead to severe discomfort. A meta-analysis published in "BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders" (2016) concluded that radial shockwave therapy is a valuable alternative to conventional treatments. It showed a significant reduction in pain and an increase in shoulder function in patients with calcific shoulder lesions.

  3. Healing Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain, often debilitating for those affected. Research in the "Journal of Orthopaedic Research" (2003) demonstrated that shockwave therapy not only alleviates the pain but also accelerates tissue repair by promoting neovascularization.

  4. Safety and Minimal Side Effects: One of the major merits of radial shockwave therapy is its safety profile. A review published in the "Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research" (2018) emphasized the minimal side effects, making it a suitable choice for patients who are not candidates for more invasive treatments.

  5. Improved Quality of Life: Beyond the physical benefits, many studies have noted a positive impact on the overall quality of life for patients undergoing radial shockwave therapy. Improved pain control and function can lead to a better sense of well-being and an enhanced ability to participate in daily activities.

Conclusion

Radial shockwave therapy is a promising modality in the field of physiotherapy. Its merits, as supported by the literature, include its effectiveness in treating tendinopathies, calcific shoulder lesions, plantar fasciitis, and more, while also maintaining a high safety profile. It offers a non-invasive and non-surgical approach to managing musculoskeletal conditions, improving patients' quality of life and promoting healing.


Anecdotally, I've had both a case of severe patellar tendinopathy an achilles tendinosis that dragged out over a year and did not respond to the typical standard treatment soft tissue work, modalities, eccentric exercise regimens and progressive loading protocols. 3 weekly sessions of radial shockwave therapy and I was back to running 80+ kilometers a week and cycling 300+kilometers pain free in a short period. They key may not have been the shockwave alone but the combination of that with the right dosage of mobility, eccentric exercises and progressive loading strength program in the gym.


As a physiotherapist, I believe in staying current with the latest advancements in the field to provide the best care to my patients. Radial shockwave therapy is an exciting option for those seeking relief from chronic pain, and it's worth considering when exploring treatment options. However, it is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine if this therapy is suitable for your specific condition and needs. Your physiotherapist can help you make an informed decision and guide you on the best treatment plan for your unique situation.


Visit my website at www.3ppeakperformancephysio.com for more blogs, booking information or to contact me with your questions.


Dan Morwood

Physiotherapist, DPT, CAFCI, CGDNT

Peak Performance Physiotherapy & Sports Rehab




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