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Shockwave therapy is used by some physiotherapists to help stimulate healing in certain tissues. Shockwave uses sound waves of specific properties and is often targeted towards tissues that have poorer healing capacity than others. It is now more common for physiotherapists to use shockwave. Learn more about shockwave therapy below and find a clinic on Physio Roots!

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What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy or 'extracorporeal shockwave therapy' (ESWT) can be found in many physiotherapy clinics and the number is growing.  Shockwave is the application of sound waves of very specific characteristics to the human body.  The sound waves produce mechanical pressure and cavitations (release of gas bubbles).

There is much more to understand about shockwave, but it is believed shockwave improves healing by stimulating certain cells and chemical growth modulators within our tissues¹. Because of these effects. shockwave is most often used to treat tendons, ligaments and connective tissue.  These tissues have poorer blood supply than most other tissues and consequently longer healing times.  Therapists try to maximize the healing potential of the affected tissue by using shockwave to stimulate local cellular processes.

Many patients experience success with shockwave.  The success of any treatment is determined by many variables.  The risks and benefits of shockwave should be discussed with your physiotherapist prior to commencing treatment. 

1.C.M. Waugh, D. Morrissey, E. Jones, G.P. Riley, H. Langberg, H.R. Screen In vivo biological response to extracorporeal shockwave therapy in human tendinopathy Eur Cell Mater, 29 (2015), pp. 268-280

This article is not intended to be a literature review. References to scientific evidence may be provided to substantiate some information; however, this may not always be the case. For more information regarding scientific evidence pertaining to a specific treatment or service, speak with your physiotherapist or contact your provincial physiotherapy college.
Last updated Mar 15, 2020