Radial Shockwave Therapy

What Is Radial Shockwave Therapy (RSWT)?
Therapeutic shockwaves were initially introduced medically for eliminating kidney stones. It was noticed however that this treatment also had positive effects on accelerating bone and soft tissue healing.

Radial Shockwave Therapy, also known as Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, uses compressed air to drive a projectile within a cylinder inside the hand piece into a shock transmitter. This produces a high energy acoustic shockwave which transmits pulses into the underlying tissue. It does not involve electrical pulses, but a mechanical impulse to the site of injury.

RSWT is a non-invasive, drug free treatment for chronic and sub-acute injuries, with proven benefits in pain reduction and reducing recovery times. Clinical studies report success rates of above 75%.

What Does It Do?
RSWT is used to stimulate the body’s natural healing process. The acoustic wave interacts with the tissues of the body, leading to a number of beneficial effects including:

  • Pain Reduction
  • Stimulation of the body’s natural healing repsonses
    • Promotion of the release of pain and inflammation inhibiting substances
    • Stimulation of collagen production
    • Promotes new blood flow to the treated area promoting tissue regeneration and healing
  • Reduces tone in tight muscles / releases trigger points
  • Can help break down bony calcifications

What Can RSWT Be Used To Treat?
In Physiotherapy RSWT is mostly used for the treatment of chronic muscular and tendon disorders, back and cervical pain and trigger point treatment.
The following conditions may benefit from RSWT:

  • Shoulder tendonopathy / bursitis / calcifications
  • Tennis / Golfers elbow
  • Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Pain)
  • Gluteal tendonopathy / Greater trochanteric pain syndrome
  • Patella Tendonopathy (Jumper’s Knee)
  • Osgood-Schlatters disease
  • Medial tibial stress syndrome (Shin Splints)
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Iliotibial band syndrome (Runner’s knee)
  • Trigger Points / Tight Muscles
  • Bony non-union

How Many Treatments Will I Need?
Most conditions require three to five sessions. The treatments take 5 to 10 minutes to complete and are usually performed 5 to 7 days apart.

Clinical studies report that approximately 80% of all patients report a substantial improvement in pain and symptoms after the second treatment. Due to the stimulation of the body’s natural healing processes, you will continue to make further improvements over two to three months following the treatment.

RSWT is most effective when used as part of a holistic physiotherapy treatment approach, including soft tissue massage, manual therapy, strapping, activity modification, and most importantly exercise rehabilitation.

Research shows that best results are achieved when the RSWT is provided in conjunction with an appropriate exercise rehabilitation program. Your physio will give you exercises to complete as part of your treatment. Performing these exercises as prescribed will reduce your recovery time and reduce the risk of injury recurrence.

Does the treatment hurt?
There may be some discomfort during treatment depending upon the level of pain that you are already experiencing and the area being treated. Since the treatments only last for about five minutes, most patients are able to tolerate this discomfort quite well. The pulses should feel strong, but they should also be within your tolerance level. The intensity of the treatment can be adjusted during each session within your comfort levels. Generally the higher the intensity the better the result will be.

Most patients will experience a reduction in pain and improved mobility and function immediately following treatment. You may start to experience some dull soreness in the treated area within a few hours after treatment. This soreness is generally very tolerable and it may last from a few hours to a couple days.

Do I Need to Rest The Area After Treatment?
It is recommended that patients refrain from high intensity physical activity involving the treated region for 48 hours following each treatment session.

Are There Any Side Effects?
RSWT is a safe and non-invasive treatment modality. Minor side effects can occasionally occur following a treatment with RSWT. Any side effects will usually appear within one to two days and settle within three to five days. These may include:

  • Reddening of the area
  • Swelling
  • Post treatment soreness
  • Bruising
  • Red Spots (Petechiae)
  • Skin Lesions

Contraindications / Precautions:
RSWT may not be appropriate for people with the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy
  • Post Operation
  • Osteoporosis
  • Growing Children – application over growth plates
  • Blood Clotting Defects
  • Pacemaker
  • Neoplasms / Tumours at or near to the treatment site
  • Infections
  • Mental Disorder

To learn more about Radial Shockwave Therapy, and whether it can help with your condition, contact 4 Life Physiotherapy on 9583 5200.