Shockwave therapy; What does it do? Is it safe?

By Quay Health Podiatrist

Mechanism of action

Even after the extensive research into shockwave therapy, the exact mechanism of action remains unclear. Currently, the proposed theories are as follows:

  1. Physical Phase; the shockwaves causes positive and negative pressure and tensile forces through to soft tissue to induce physical effects.
  2. Physicochemical phase; the shockwaves stimulates cells to release biomolecules to activate cell signal pathways; such as adenosine triphosphate (the fuel for cells).
  3. Chemical phase; the shockwaves alter the function of cells by altering the functions of ion channels in the cell membrane and calcium mobilization.
  4. Biological phase;; the shockwave causes the body to:
    • Grow new blood vessels into an area
    • Produce nitric oxide causing blood vessels to widen
    • Reduce inflammation
    • Improve wound and bone healing

What does that mean?

Basically, the application of shockwave therapy to a treatment site causes:

  • Increased blood flow
    1. Increased blood vessel diameter
    2. Formation of new blood vessels to an area
  • Improved function of arthritic joints and delayed progressive joint space narrowing
  • Anti-Inflammation
  • Tissue and Nerve regeneration
  • Analgesia; Temporary pain relief

Is it safe?

Yes. The only instances in which radial shockwave therapy (the type utilised at Quay Health) cannot be used is when there is either a malignant tumour or fetus in the treatment area.

The studies assert that shockwave therapy is an efficient, non-invasive and safe treatment of certain musculoskeletal disorders and should be considered in instances when conservative treatment has failed and before surgery.

Wrapping this up, it is also important to understand that shockwave therapy is not a miracle treatment and cannot be used for every musculoskeletal condition. Every patient needs to be assessed by a registered health-care professional to assess their suitability for shockwave therapy.

If you think that you may benefit from shockwave therapy, click here to make an appointment with one of our podiatrist.

to assess your suitability for treatment.


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