NEW Shockwave Therapy at Physio London
New Treatment: Cure Your Tendon Pain with Shockwave Therapy, Now In-House at Physio London
What is shockwave therapy?
Initially used to break up kidney stones, shockwave therapy is the application of high amplitude pulses of energy transmitted into the body using a shockwave machine. It’s since been found to be useful in treating a variety of conditions with more applications being discovered seemingly by the year, but – as physiotherapists – the conditions we’re most interested in are tendinopathies.
How can shockwave therapy help with my tendon problems?
Shockwave therapy works via a process called mechanotransduction in which mechanical energy in the form a forceful wave stimulates cells to respond using biochemical signals. This is very effective in reducing some of these more irritable chronic painful musculoskeletal conditions, of which tendinopathy or tendonitis is usually at the top of the list.
While our knowledge of where tendon pain comes from is still developing, we do know that extra blood vessel growth around tendons brings new nerves and subsequent pain receptors.
Pain receptors come in two varieties: A-delta fibres, which transmit acute pain to the brain (think stubbing your toe or closing your finger in a door), while C fibres transmit chronic pain, which is the type of pain that typically affects those with tendinopathies as they’re conditions that often develop through very gradual wear and tear rather than sudden trauma.
Mechanotransduction from shockwave therapy inhibits these C fibres, which explains why it’s so effective in the treatment of tendinopathy. One study of over 300 patients with a variety of tendinopathies had a reduced average pain rating from 6.25 to just 0.2. This was a year after the therapy, too.
Further studies have corroborated these findings, and there hasn’t yet been any evidence of negative side effects. With such dramatically improved well-being for patients, it was clear that we had to have a machine of our own here at Physio London.
Rehabilitating tendinopathies usually involves fighting fires on two fronts: managing the pain and addressing the cause through physical therapy. By eliminating the pain, we’re able to progress through the physical therapy much more rapidly, significantly reducing recovery times and costs of treatment.
Does shockwave therapy hurt?
Without fail, that’s the question I’m asked most when I suggest shockwave therapy. The answer is: yes, a little. But with the correct application, pain during and after treatment should be minimal.
Shockwave machines transmit high frequency energy through a pad about the size of your thumb. The sensation feels like lots of rapid, tiny punches, which can leave the area feeling sore afterwards if the affected area isn’t accustomed to the treatment. However, by starting at a very low dose and gradually increasing the frequency, we can reduce or eliminate this pain and soreness.
Why get shockwave therapy at Physio London?
If you’ve developed a tendon problem, there’s usually an underlying mechanical issue that’s caused it, whether’s it’s posture, footwear, muscle imbalance, sports technique and so on. There are many private clinics and doctors that provide shockwave therapy, but they won’t also provide the rehabilitation programme to resolve the underlying issue.
This means that if you get a la carte shockwave therapy, you may be pain-free, but whatever was damaging the tendon in the first place will not be addressed. This could lead to the development of even more serious tendon damage and, long term, the potential for worse pain.
Of course, just as important is cost. We provide three sessions of shockwave therapy, including our usual physical therapy, for £295, and insurance providers are usually happy to cover it. Private shockwave therapy, meanwhile, often costs in excess of £600 with no physical therapy backing it up.
If you have any questions about shockwave therapy, feel free to get in touch with me, or if you’d like to go right ahead and book your appointment, contact the clinic at email@example.com or call us on 020 7093 3499.
Jody Chappell, MSc BSc MCSP HCPC