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Shockwave Therapy

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What Is Shockwave Therapy?

SWT uses compressed air to generate acoustic energy (sound waves) which are passed through the skin into the soft tissue by an applicator device which is referred to as a ‘gun’. The shockwave machine we use delivers acoustic waves of up to 5 atmospheres of pressure so it really packs a punch!

How does Shockwave Therapy work?

Shockwave improves circulation, reduce pain and increase range of motion by creating an inflammatory reaction in chronically painful / injured tissues.

What conditions does Shockwave Therapy treat?

Are there any side effects?

Occasionally there can be mild pain and / or bruising over the treated area but often the underlying condition starts to feel better immediately after treatment. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has stated that Shockwave therapy is a safe and effective treatment.
The practitioner providing the treatment will have checked your medical history to ensure risk of side effects are minimal.

Common side effects include redness or bruising in the treated area, skin damage and sometimes an increase in pain in the treated area.

Very rare side effects include the risk of tendon tear or rupture particularly if you have recently had a steroid injection in the treated area.

Following shockwave therapy It’s fine to maintain ‘normal’ levels of activity. Do not do anything you normally would not do. It’s prudent to avoid sport or any other aggravating activities which stress the affected / treated area for 48 hours post-treatment.

How many sessions are required?

NICE guidance recommends 3 sessions typically over a three week period. Patients often start feeling better immediately after the first treatment however the beneficial effects of shockwave accumulate over a three month period. If symptoms initially improve and then relapse before three months has elapsed then we can apply a further two sessions of shockwave i.e. a total of five sessions over any three month period. More than five sessions within three months risks traumatising the tissue too much i.e. we would be breaking down tissue faster than your body can rebuild.

Like any treatment there can be no guarantees it will always work but when dealing with tendon and fascia problems such as the conditions listed above it is important to remember that it may take a full year for things to recover fully and regardless of treatment given you’ll need to be diligent with your exercise programme.

What Others Like You Are Saying About Shockwave Therapy...

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Will, Herne Hill: Overcame shoulder pain.

I started seeing Chris about two years ago, when after a couple of heavy contacts playing rugby, I developed ongoing and deteriorating pain and soreness in my right shoulder and neck, which was affecting both my game, and my day to day life.

I suffered a dislocated AC joint when I was 18 and assumed that the shoulder had probably been weakened by this, and that I might be approaching the point where I needed to hang up my (very amateur!) boots if I wasn’t going to risk wider quality of life impacts.

I was referred to Chris by the rugby club, and after a series of sessions with sports massage and needling, and some prescribed exercises, the general soreness was much improved, but I was still experiencing pain through particular ranges of movement, which would have made playing rugby difficult.

Chris then used a course of shockwave therapy, which I understand stimulates healing by causing low-level trauma, to further treat the area.  Once the treatment was finished I was able to resume playing completely pain-free, and with some ongoing prehab haven’t experienced any recurrence of the issues, despite the fact that the joint was pretty mucked up by that initial injury! 

Ultimately this has had a really significant impact.  Rugby and being active generally are really important parts of my life, and make a massive difference to my general wellbeing.  I was expecting that I might have to stop playing, and resign myself to some chronic ongoing pain when doing small things like turning my head, let alone other activities that I enjoy like weightlifting, and happily, this hasn’t been the case.

One my favourite things about seeing Chris has been his no nonsense and practical approach to treatment; he’s always encouraged me to do as much as I can when rehabbing injuries rather than wrapping myself in cotton wool, and has been realistic about expectations and outcomes. 

I’ve also particularly appreciated that he is on top of the latest research and treatments, and will often explain to me what the literature says about the merits and de-merits of various treatment approaches.  This reassures me that I’m being treated not only on the basis of Chris’s extensive experience, but also what is recommended by the medical community more broadly.