Revolutionary Medicine: Shockwave Therapy for Chronic Pain Sufferers


Stripped from the scenes from science fiction novels and films, shockwave therapy is a newage alternative to chronic pain sufferers. Utilized not only on humans for over 25 years for urologic and orthopedic conditions, shockwave therapy has even been introduced to veterinary and equine medicine as well. Helping individuals suffering from a range of conditions, including: golf or tennis elbow, stiff shoulders, calcaneal spurs, joint calcification, chronic tendon pain, and many other musculoskeletal disorders; shockwave therapy could possibly be the answer to help and healing.

To learn about Shockwave Therapy, I contacted Ms. LuJean Smith (Public Relations' Director) of Siemens Medical Solutions. In an informal interview, I asked Ms. Smith a few questions about this revolutionary therapy and how it aids patients with healing:

[C. Bailey-Lloyd]: "Could you please tell me who developed and first began utilizing shockwave therapy?"

[L. Smith]: "German aerospace engineers realized the concept caused pitting or cavitation on aircraft parts. The first use of the technology for health care was for kidney stones in the 1970s."

(*Through further research, I discovered that 98% of all kidney stones are treated with shockwave therapy, also known as lithotripsy.)

Ms. Smith explained exactly how shockwave therapy works:

"A shockwave is created by an intense change in pressure just as upi experience witht he sonic boom of an aircraft or the force you feel after a bolt of lightening. The shock wave is an acoustic wave with a quick rise in maximum pressure and a frequency spectrum ranging from audible to the far end of the ultrasonic scale.

Extracorpeal Shock waves used in medicine today are created as a result of electromagnetic, piezoelectric, or electro hydraulic generation.

Sonucur utilized an electromagnetic system that consists of an electromagnetic coil and opposing metal membrane. A high current impulse is released through the coil to create a strong magnetic field which causes a current in the opposing metal membrane. This current rapidly accelerates the membrane away from the coil producing an acoustic impulse in the surrounding water.

"The acoustic impulse is focused by an acoustic lens to direct the shock wave energy to the target tissue. The acoustic lens controls the focus size and the amount of energy produced at the targeted tissue. The mechanisms for healing are not fully understood..."

Additionally, Ms. Smith expressed valuable insight regarding scientific evaluation supporting shockwave therapy. According to scientific studies, shockwave increases vascularization in treatment regions (based on MRI results). Furthermore, shockwave impact reduces pain from nerves as confirmed through lab test results on isolated nerve cells. And, consistent with Gate-Control theory (Gate-Control therory predicts that massaging a particular area stimulates large diameter nerve fibres; whereby pain relief is achieved.), shockwave eradicated chronic pain memory via over-stimulation.

Siemen's Sonocur Basic system has an articulating head that is placed directly onto the area of treatment, where adjustments are fine-tuned to the specific therapeutic focus. Once adjusted, preset pulses (shockwaves) are administered at low-energy levels; thus permitting anesthesia-free therapy.

When asked how long treatment lasts, Ms. Smith relayed that treatments generally last 15-30 minutes and is standardly administered over a course of three (3) treatments.

[C. Bailey-Lloyd]: "How long has this treatment been in use and how successful is it?"

[L. Smith]: "The treatments have been used in Europe since the early 1990s. Clinical Treatments in the US started in 2000 with full approval for Sonocur in 2002. Success rates vary due to physician, experience and patient conditions. Studies have shown patients with complete recovery, patients with partial recovery, and patients with little or no recovery. But in general, 65% - 70% of patients the results have been quite favorable."

[C. Bailey-Lloyd]: "How effective is shockwave therapy as opposed to other conventional treatments?"

[L. Smith]: "Normal treatments for various tendonapathies include steroid injections, physical therapy, various orthopedic support devices and in chronic conditions, even surgery. Study data shows some chronic patients have responded to none of the aforementioned treatments and have shown complete recovery with ESWL treatments. (ESWL therapy is recommended for patients that have a history of at least 6 months pain and unfavorable results with at least 3 of the conventional treatments.)"

[C. Bailey-Lloyd]: "Are there any side effects to this treatment? Please Explain."

[L. Smith]: "The 2 most common side effects reported were slight nausea during the actual treamtne (approx. 20% of study patients) and soreness or stiffness the next day after the treatment. (Much like one feels the next day after a hard physical workout.)"

Ms. Smith also told me that shockwave therapy is readily used in approximately 175 sites across the Nation alone. Primarily orthopedic, sports medicine and podiatrist physicians provide shockwave therapy services. Additionally, "...shockwave therapy is approved by the FDA in uses for Chronic Plantar fascilitis and medial or lateral epicondylitis." Globally, "...shockwave therapy is utilized for tendonapathies, knees, shoulders, and treatment of Nonunion fractures."

In closing, shockwave therapy has been proven to stimulate and accelerate human healing process. While research continues at multiple sites around the country, shockwave therapy is revolutionizing modern medicine and effectively demonstrates how to achieve overall health.


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