Shockwave Therapy - Also Known As Radial Pressure Wave Therapy

Shockwave therapy is a medical treatment that utilizes ultrasound technology to send high-energy acoustic waves into the target area to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities. At the most basic level, shockwave therapy stimulates new cell growth. These new, healthy cells replace old, weak, or damaged cells.

Shockwaves are actually focused ultrasonic energy (i.e., ultrasound), which is simply sound waves that have a vibration frequency greater than 20,000 Hz. For reference, most humans hear sounds with a frequency between 20 and 20,000 Hz.

Shockwave therapy goes by a number of names, including:

  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)

  • Acoustic wave therapy

  • Radial pressure wave therapy (RPW), also known as radial shockwave therapy

  • Focused shockwave therapy (FSW)

Numerous studies prove that shockwave, or radial pressure wave therapy, is an effective means of eliminating chronic pain without surgery.

Doctors first used shockwave therapy in the 1990s, to treat kidney stones. They observed that the treatment seemed to accelerate healing in both bone and soft tissues, which led to research into other medical applications of RPW treatments.

The Benefits of Radial Shockwave Therapy

Research over the past 20 years shows how RPW shockwave therapy is effective against chronic pain and inflammation.

  • Improved blood flow: The acoustic waves in Shockwave therapy create microscopic tears in tissues, which causes the body to create new blood vessels. This increases blood flow and oxygenation to the treatment area, promoting faster healing.

  • Reduces inflammation: Chronic inflammation causes pain and reduced function. Mast cells help fight inflammation; acoustic waves increase mast cell activity.

  • Increased collagen production: Collagen is vital to bone and joint health as it is a key component in the structure of muscle, skin, and connective tissues. Shockwave therapy causes your body to increase collagen production, creating a strong support structure for new cells.

  • Reduces calcification: Damaged tendons typically have a buildup of calcium. Acoustic waves break through that calcium buildup, which the body then expels naturally.

  • Interrupts the “pain train”: Your body sends pain messages via a neurotransmitter called Substance P. Shockwave therapy lowers Substance P concentrations, interrupting those pain messages. That reduced concentration also inhibits your body’s inflammatory response to provide even more pain relief.

  • Relaxes trigger points: Extreme muscle tension in the back, neck, shoulders, and limbs (your body’s pain trigger points) impedes blood flow to those areas. This causes pain as the muscle no longer receives enough oxygen. Blood flow is also how your body removes waste. Lack of oxygen and waste buildup causes even more tension in the muscle, creating a cycle known as metabolic crisis. Acoustic wave therapy releases the tension in these trigger points, easing pain and breaking the cycle.