What is Shockwave anyway?

What is Shockwave anyway?

What is shockwave therapy?

Shockwave therapy is a modality generally used to treat different orthopedic conditions. It has been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of conditions such as: rotator cuff tendonitis (calcified or not), tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and many more. It is considered a non-invasive treatment that will support and reset the healing patterns of chronic and hard to treat conditions by creating a new inflammatory phase.

How does it work?

A hand piece is used to send targeted waves into the injured area. The system uses compressed air to accelerate a projectile located inside the hand piece. The energy created by the movement of the projectile is transmitted to the tissues in form of mechanical waves.

Healing will occur in the tissues by: 

- Increased blood flow and new blood vessel formation

- Analgesia through hyperstimulation

- Breakage of problematic tissues

- Increased/modification of metabolic and cellular activity

- Release of trigger points

In sum, the microtrauma caused by these waves, in the tissue, will provoke analgesic processes and stimulate tissue remodeling.

What to expect?

A shockwave session usually lasts less than 5 minutes

Most conditions will require a total of 3 to 6 treatments with 5-10 days of interval between treatments. 

Improvement usually can be seen after 3-4 sessions and the condition can continue to improve within 2 weeks and up to 3 months after the treatment is completed.

During the treatment, slight discomfort or mild pain may be experienced depending on the irritability of the condition. The therapist can adjust the intensity of the treatment during the session to improve patient comfort.

Side effects could occur after treatment. They are usually minor and include:

- Hematoma and bruising

- Swelling

- Skin irritation

- Temporary increase of symptoms

Your therapist may use additional modalities and will prescribe some home exercises to increase effectiveness of the treatment. You may be advised not to use anti-inflammatory medications or apply ice on the area to avoid disturbing the new inflammatory phase created by the shockwave treatment.


Michelle, PT