What is Shockwave Therapy?

Oct 03, 2022

For this blog, I wanted to write about shockwave therapy. I am considering putting it into my office, purchasing it, bringing it into the office because it is a type of therapy that works really, really well with musculoskeletal issues, specifically chronic things that involve adhesions and scar tissue.


And I see that all the time in my office because I'm not just the type of chiropractor who only adjusts. I've done different myofascial work like ART and Graston since I was in school and it's just something I've always focused on. My patients tend to have those kinds of issues because people kind of know that I do a lot of that work and I do get really great results with just using my hands, or my tools, whether it be the metal tools, or cupping, or the other tons of tools in my toolbox.


What Is Shockwave Therapy

There are some issues and cases where it would be really helpful to have a little bit extra help where we've come to find that when you do muscle work with your hands, cupping, tools, anything like that, you're not actually breaking down scar tissue. It would take way many thousand pounds of pressure to actually break down scar tissue. And that's not what we're doing. We're changing the relationship in your brain to the area to hold less tone. But it doesn't affect real scar tissue that is there.

The shockwave therapy machine actually does the things that my hands and other tools can’t do. With shockwave therapy, it’s basically sound waves and was invented actually I think in the 80s, but I could be wrong. It was initially developed to break up kidney stones so the penetration was much deeper and they still use it today. It basically puts these sound waves in, it goes through all the healthy tissue, no problem, no pain, no issue. Once it hits a source of unhealthy tissue like the kidney stone, it's going to break up apart that calcification into smaller pieces and then you're able to pee it out.

So the same concept goes for scar tissue and adhesions and those kinds of things. That’s why it works so well for things like plantar fasciitis, golfers or tennis elbow, rotator cuff issues, or tendonitis in any area. So any joint can have a tendonitis and that basically just means inflammation of the area. You can even use shockwave therapy on your TMJ just at a very low level. And that's also an inflammation kind of a thing.


Patients’ Experience With Shockwave Therapy

When we actually borrowed the machine just for one day and had about 15 patients come in, the people who I saw have had pretty good success with it. There was someone with plantar fasciitis, had great success. Tennis elbow, really worked well. Somebody had a chronic long standing risk issue, it helped. The shockwave therapy was very helpful for somebody who had really years long issue with SI joint and low back pain.

That was very interesting because there are so many people with some chronic issues. Basically, it goes in there with the pulse waves and helps to regenerate the tissue and cause it to start healing itself with the pulse waves. It would be good for people who have chronic pain and some inflammation. So that could be anything caused with arthritis and those kinds of things. And those really don't have good options for treatment.


Shockwave Therapy Is Not Invasive

So another thing with the treatment is that it's not invasive. You're not put under, you don't have to have any analgesic or anything like that. It's relatively pain-free. When you're waving the instrument around with the pulse waves entering your skin, it does not hurt unless there is an area that is not quite right or the area of dysfunction. So it's also kind of diagnostic. So if somebody says, “Oh it hurts here,” what we do is we wave the unit over that area, there's zero pain, that means there's no dysfunction there. And as we move to another area and then they're like, “Oh yeah, that's a little tender,” then we know that's actually where the dysfunction is coming from, which can be really helpful because that's where you would treat with other things as well.

Now, what I noticed in just that one day of having the machine is that you might find the tenderness and then when we slowly turn up the intensity of the machine, the people who were able to take more a higher level of intensity had a lot better results afterwards. So you don't want it to be painful, but you want be able to turn it up as high as you can tolerate without being in a ton of pain because the more stimulation the area gets, I think the faster the healing and regeneration happens.


Shockwave Therapy Helps With Better Blood Flow

Basically, it prompts the body to start reabsorbing the damaged tissue and stimulate new blood vessels to replace the old ones and the tiny new blood vessels and increase the blood supply to that injured area. When you have better blood flow, it's going to increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients and hormones to help with that healing process, which is very cool to me because not only do I do all of that myofascial work, I do a lot with the moving of the limb system and better blood flow and that's very important in healing areas and it's a nice way to be able to increase that for people.


A Doctor’s Experience With Shockwave Therapy

Another interesting thing that we did not test out, but I was able to talk with a doctor and MD out in Colorado is that, he's been using this machine when working with people with pelvic floor issues. So now, he doesn't do any exercises or anything like that like we do, but he's been doing six treatments within four weeks and seeing really good results with the shockwave therapy. It's helping to break up those adhesions and the trigger points and scar tissue, whether it be from tearing or high tone where it's shortened and way too tight and also increasing blood flow, creating new blood vessels, those kinds of things.

Remember that this will help to get oxygen to the area because it's more blood but also get more hormones to the area which is important in pelvic floor health. So it's very interesting and really pairs well with what I do on the women's health end of things, but then also really pairs well with just my standard patient who suffers from those chronic musculoskeletal stuff like golfers’ elbow, tennis elbow, shoulder injuries, knee stuff, low back, those chronic SI joint issues, plantar fasciitis. I don't know why I have so many patients with foot issues but we do get a lot of them in the office and we do get great results but there's always a few who need a little bit more or they'll not be able to completely resolve their issue. So this is really cool that we can go in there and modify the actual scar tissue and get it to help repair itself because that's not something that we can do with our hands.


Shockwave Therapy For Endometriosis, Erectile Dysfunction, And Other Issues

I asked the rep for the shockwave system if you could use this on people with endometriosis because I see a lot of people with endometriosis in the office. Endometriosis is essentially adhesions even though it's hormone-driven within the abdomen and adhesions are like scar tissues. So it seemed like an obvious connection and he kind of looked at me like I was crazy but after I deep-dove on the internet, there are trials out there where they're using this technology for people with endometriosis, which is awesome because there is really not a great option for treating endometriosis and I know it's super quick-growing and it wouldn't be a fix because it's hormone-driven usually. But it could give them some relief and I am definitely interested in that as well.

So I love that they're using it for a variety of different things. A place kind of near me is actually using the shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction and that might seem like, “Oh my gosh, you would put shockwaves in your penis. That's crazy.” It's not that painful and basically, it's only good for one type of erectile dysfunction and that would be if it's from blood flow. So we can get microcalcifications in the blood vessels in the penis and basically, you use the unit on the penis and those shock waves go in there, break up the teeny tiny calcifications in the blood vessels, allowing there to be better blood flow to the penis and then that will help with erectile dysfunction. And they do a similar six protocol treatment in offices near us and down in Pittsburgh for that specific type of erectile dysfunction.

So it doesn't work for everybody but if it's due to that, it helps with that. And it also is shown to help with enlarged prostate. It was in there and helps with that blood flow issue. I haven't asked the local urologist if they use this kind of technology, but I don't think that they do. My little sister actually was a physician assistant out of our local urology office and she said they didn't use that technology there then because again, it's not covered by insurance just like it's not covered for insurance at my office.



All these are very interesting. From your foot issues, it's FDA approved for treating plantar pititis, works great for that. And it also works great for these other tendonitis inflammation working on scar tissue issues.

What also piqued my interest since I do work a ton with C-section scars and having people be able to better connect their core makes drastic improvements not just for how your abs look, but for how your low back functions and your hips and your SI joints and everything in between. It is very interesting to me that maybe we could work on someone's not just C-section scar, but tummy tuck or any type of abdominal surgery because abdominal surgeries really profoundly affect how our whole body functions because we really use our core to move freely and with less pain.

We're going to have the machine in the office for another two weeks. We're going to have some test patients, get bigger sample size of visits so I can see how well it works for my patients. I know what the research says and it looks great. But I'd like to know firsthand how well it works before I invest into anything. We're excited about it and if you want to give it a try, let me know!


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