Shockwave therapy


Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that stimulates the body’s natural healing process. It helps relieve pain and promotes the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues. It accomplishes this by releasing growth factors in the injured tissue.

It is used to treat tendinopathy as well as difficult-to-heal ligament injuries. Some degenerative tendinopathies have an associated buildup of calcium in the tendon. Focused shock waves can break those deposits up.

The treatment can also promote healing after orthopedic surgery — for instance, if a hip impingement has damaged tendons and ligaments around the hip. Surgery may correct the hip impingement, but after years of overworking and degeneration because of the impingement, the surrounding tendons often remain painful. Shockwave therapy can be used to address this secondary issue.

What sports injuries can be treated with shockwave therapy?

Shockwave therapy is used to reduce pain and promote healing from tendinopathy and many other sports injuries. Some examples include:

How does shockwave therapy work?

Shockwave therapy is typically administered by health care practitioners. Myers physiotherapy team have deep knowledge in the anatomy of joints, tendons, and ligaments and common patterns of sports injury, and how to use shockwave therapy on particular conditions.

During treatment, the clinician holds a shockwave device next to the skin. The device sends shockwaves into the injured tissues, stimulating increased blood flow and growth hormones to the area, and promoting new tissue growth.

There are two types of shockwave therapy. Usually, patients receive both types:

  • Focused shockwave therapy sends waves into a small area.
  • Radial shockwave therapy delivers shockwaves over a broader area, for instance, along the length of an injured tendon.

Is shockwave therapy painful?

Most patients report some discomfort during shockwave therapy, but most do not find it painful. The amount of discomfort depends in part on the person, their injury, and whether the damaged tissues are close to a bone. (Treatments delivered closer to a bone are generally more uncomfortable.) The clinician will rub a topical gel on the skin to reduce the discomfort. As soon as the treatment is over, the discomfort typically stops.

How long does shockwave therapy take?

A single treatment usually takes between 10-15 minutes. Depending on the injury, a patient will usually receive three to five treatments over a period of several weeks.

How effective is shockwave therapy?

Sports medicine specialists and other clinicians have observed significant healing in many of their patients who receive the treatment. Studies are currently underway to better understand the effectiveness of shockwave therapy.

It is important for patients to know that the results of shockwave therapy may not be apparent immediately but should increase over time as their injured tissues heal.

Shockwave therapy is often used in combination with other therapies such as physical therapy. In the case of sports-related injuries, an injury-prevention specialist may work with the athlete to analyze their movement patterns and help them build strength and adjust their technique, so they are less prone to re-injury.

How long is the recovery period from shockwave therapy?

Athletes can typically return to activity within 24 hours of a treatment.