What is Shockwave Therapy?

Dr. Corey Fox
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Director of Massapequa Podiatry Associates

Shockwave therapy is one of several forms of advanced treatment we provide here at Massapequa Podiatry Associates, along with laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma therapy, and others. 

Now, we know the names of these therapies don’t really explain much about what they can do for you – and may even sound odd or intimidating. That’s why this blog is all about introducing you to shockwave therapy and the great benefits it can provide patients suffering from certain conditions.

As always, if you have any questions about our treatments that aren’t answered here, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. We’re always happy to help you find the best solutions to your foot and ankle troubles!

So What Actually Is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy (sometimes referred to as “extracorporeal shockwave therapy” or ESWT) is a form of regenerative medicine in which we apply high-energy acoustic pressure waves to the site of an injury or soft tissue damage.

Although “shock” is in the title, there is no electrical current being passed through the body during this process – only acoustic waves. The “extracorporeal” part means the treatment happens outside the body. In other words, we don’t make any incisions or place any objects inside the patient.

shockwave therapy

What is Regenerative Medicine?

Regenerative medicine is a therapy that uses the body’s own natural materials and reactions to generate positive results – without the use of synthetic drugs or foreign agents.

Shockwave therapy is considered part of regenerative medicine because it introduces only acoustic waves to the body. It is the reaction of the body to those pressure waves that generates the results. 

There are no drugs you have to take as part of shockwave therapy. In fact, there is no preparation or aftercare required at all.

How Does Shockwave Therapy Work?

When applied to an area of cellular damage, the pressure waves of shockwave therapy create a minor disruption. The body responds to this disruption in several ways:

  • Cellular processes increase. This includes cellular repair.

  • Blood flow increases to the area. This rushes more blood to the area, along with more of the materials cells need to conduct their repair work.

  • Some neurotransmitters are temporarily blocked. This can reduce pain.

  • Calcium buildup can be broken up. These buildups can sometimes interfere with proper healing of microscopic tears, so breaking them up will get them out of the way.

In essence, shockwave therapy to an area of the body places it under a “red alert” mode, accelerating repair and diverting resources to that spot – even though the therapy is not causing any actual harm. 

What Can Shockwave Therapy Treat?

ESWT tends to be particularly effective when applied to connective tissue disorders and injuries. This can include:

Shockwave therapy can not only be effective in relieving pain and accelerating healing of recent injuries. It can also be effective in “restarting” repairs to sources of chronic pain as well.

Not every situation will benefit best from shockwave therapy, however. After a thorough evaluation of your condition, we can determine whether or not we would recommend shockwave as part of a treatment plan for you.

shockwave therapy

What Should I Expect from Shockwave Therapy?

Typically, shockwave therapy is performed over the course of several sessions, scheduled out over a few weeks.

During each session, we will apply a gel to the surface of the treatment area to improve the contact between the wand of our shockwave device and your skin. 

We will then use the device to deliver the pressure waves into the area. For most patients, the sensation is similar to someone snapping a rubber band against the skin, and is not intolerable. If it does start to hurt you, however, let us know immediately. We can typically adjust the delivery of the waves for a more comfortable experience.

Each session is short – usually about 5-10 minutes, depending on the condition and area we are addressing. When we’re finished, you can continue on your day exactly as normal, with no aftercare to worry about.

Is Shockwave Therapy Safe?

In general, shockwave therapy is a very safe form of treatment, and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical use.

However, as with most forms of treatment, there are certain situations in which ESWT may not be recommended. This can include patients who have blood clotting disorders, have certain heart conditions, are prone to seizures, have infections in the area of treatment, or are pregnant, among others.

We will naturally discuss these factors with you to determine whether shockwave therapy would be a recommended course of action. If not, there are other routes of treatment we can take to help you find the relief and results you need.

Let’s Find an Effective Treatment for Your Foot and Ankle Pain

Regardless of whether shockwave therapy, another form of treatment, or even a combination of treatments is best for your situation, the first step remains the same: coming to see us and getting to the root of the problem!

Call our Massapequa office at (516) 541-9000 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fox or Dr. LoBello. You can also reach us electronically by filling out our online contact form, if you wish. 

 
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