Pulsewave therapy, also referred to as Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, was introduced in the field of medicine in 1982. The success of pulsewave therapy for treating kidney stones soon led to several clinical trials to test its efficacy for chronic pain and other medical conditions. In this respect, the therapy has shown significant benefits in healing soft tissue, fasciopathy, and lower and upper extremity tendinopathies.
Understanding the Science
Pulsewave is an effective, non-invasive therapy where a series of low or high-energy acoustic wave pulses are applied directly to the targeted area through the patient’s skin with a gel medium.
By generating powerful pulse waves, the therapy initiates processes for biological regeneration, typically at the cellular level. The treatment applies frequent, short, and high-intensity bursts of energy into the injured, scarred, or inflamed tissue.
It results in three specific types of responses. These are:
Physical: where the pulse waves hit tissue to generate positive pressure waves
Chemical Response: where the waves stimulate biochemical response mechanically, causing cell activation
Biological Response: the cells are instructed to stimulate blood vessel remodeling and reduce inflammation of molecules to promote healthy and new tissue in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Altogether, the therapy targets deep-lying tissue resulting in wound healing and alleviating pain and tissue regeneration. The therapy’s efficacy can be backed by clinical studies published in PubMed.gov. One of the many studies from PubMed.gov on the safety and effectiveness of pulsewave therapy showed a significant reduction in pain in tendinopathies of patients and improved quality of life. The reduction in musculoskeletal pain and improvement in functionality in patients increased by nearly two points after the shockwave treatment on the 5-point Likert scale.
Advantages & Benefits Compared to Steroid Injections
Furthermore, pulsewave is safer than steroid injections. Steroid injections can weaken ligaments, tendon-bone attachments, and bones. Other side-effects of steroid injections are progressive arthritic changes, suppressed immune system, and inhibiting growth hormone.
More Effective in Treating Plantar Fasciitis
Another study published in BMJ journals compared the two treatments for plantar fasciitis and concluded that pulsewave therapy is more effective. Pulsewave improved functionality and pain in patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. Moreover, the Foot Function Index (FFI) improvement was superior with pulsewave therapy.
Long Term Clinical Improvement
Research shows that pulsewave therapy and local corticosteroid injections are practical and helpful in musculoskeletal pain reduction. However, pulsewave therapy is proven to offer more than pain reduction. It shows better long-term clinical improvement as it promotes the natural healing process in patients compared to steroid injections.
• Provides pain relief (the analgesic effect) and heals painful joints with no use of needles or surgery
• Has anti-inflammatory action such as decreased cellular apoptosis and necrosis and pro-inflammatory Response of the immune system
• Has antibacterial effect
• Stimulates regeneration of tissue by inducing endogenous growth factors
• Promotes growth and natural anabolic functions in tissues (nerves, bones, skin, cartilage, and muscles)
• Tendinopathies (lower and upper extremities)
• Achilles Tendinopathy
• Morton's Neuroma
• Non-union fractures or chronic stress
• Patellar Tendinosis or jumper's knee
• Calcific Tendonitis
At Redefined Hawaii, we specialize in pulsewave therapy. Our board-certified doctor can assess your condition to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for the treatment. The treatment is mainly performed once a week for three to six weeks.
The series of treatments varies depending on your condition, history and results achieved. Overall the procedure lasts about five minutes but can cause mild discomfort. For more information or assessment, schedule a consultation with our doctor today.