How Does Shockwave Therapy Work In Physiotherapy?


In the realm of modern physiotherapy, a technique has emerged for treating musculoskeletal conditions: shockwave therapy. Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive procedure used by physical therapists and other health clinicians to alleviate chronic pain and promote the natural healing process. 

But how does shockwave therapy work in physiotherapy? Keep reading to learn about how shockwave therapy works, when it is used by physical therapists, and what benefits it may offer. For shockwave therapy in Edmonton, reach out to our team at Turning Point Physical Therapy.  

The Basics of Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy, also known as extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), is a medical treatment that utilizes high-energy shock waves to stimulate the healing process in affected areas of the body. This non-invasive procedure is most commonly used to treat chronic musculoskeletal conditions and has proven effective in cases involving tendinopathies, plantar fasciitis, and more.

How Does It Work?

There are several ways that shockwave therapy is thought to provide benefit: 

Mechanical Energy Transfer: Shockwave therapy involves the transmission of high-energy acoustic waves, generated by a specialized device, into the patient’s body. These waves carry mechanical energy that travels through the skin to reach the affected area.

Cellular Response: When shockwaves reach the affected tissue, they induce a series of biological responses. The effect at the cellular level stimulates the body’s natural healing processes.

Blood Flow and Healing: The mechanical energy generated by shockwaves increases blood flow to the injured or painful area. This improved circulation brings oxygen and nutrients to the tissue, facilitating the repair and regeneration of damaged cells. Additionally, it helps in the removal of metabolic waste products that may contribute to inflammation and pain.

Applications Of Shockwave Therapy In Physiotherapy

Shockwave therapy is a non-surgical treatment method that uses the power of acoustic waves to stimulate the body’s natural healing responses, making it a useful tool in the toolbox of physiotherapy. Physical therapists may use shockwave therapy for conditions such as: 


Shockwave therapy can be used alongside other treatments for tendinopathies, which are conditions involving overload or degeneration of the tendons. Tendinopathy often leads to pain and restricted mobility, particularly during high-intensity movements like jumping or running. Physical therapists may use shockwave therapy to help stimulate tissue regeneration, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain in tendinopathy conditions such as Achilles tendinopathy, patellar tendinopathy, and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). 

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain. Shockwave therapy can be a game-changer for patients suffering from this condition. By promoting the healing process and reducing inflammation in the plantar fascia, physical therapists use shockwave therapy to give patients relief and improve overall foot function.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome is characterized by the presence of trigger points in the muscles that cause pain and discomfort. Physical therapists may use shockwave therapy to target these trigger points, relieving muscle tension and promoting healing during rehabilitation.

The Benefits of Shockwave Therapy

Some of the benefits of shockwave therapy include: 

  • Non-Invasive: One of the most significant advantages of shockwave therapy is that it’s non-invasive (non-surgical). Unlike surgery, it does not require incisions or anaesthesia, reducing the risk of complications and downtime.
  • Speedy Recovery: Patients who undergo shockwave therapy often experience a quicker recovery compared to traditional treatments. The stimulation of the body’s natural healing mechanisms promotes faster tissue repair.
  • Pain Relief: Shockwave therapy can help alleviate the painful symptoms associated with various musculoskeletal conditions. Many patients experience significant pain relief after just a few sessions.
  • Improved Function: Shockwave therapy can also enhance overall function and mobility. It helps patients regain their range of motion and enjoy a better quality of life.
  • Minimal Side Effects: When administered by a trained professional, shockwave therapy typically has minimal side effects. Some patients may experience minor discomfort or bruising, but these effects are temporary.

While shockwave therapy offers many benefits, it may not be suitable for all patients as not all musculoskeletal conditions respond equally well to this treatment (and it may not be safe in other conditions). Additionally, the effectiveness can vary among patients, and it might not provide immediate relief, requiring multiple sessions. It’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional to determine its appropriateness and explore alternative treatments if needed.

A Way To Move Better 

Shockwave therapy has emerged as a tool in physical therapy, offering patients a non-invasive, effective solution for chronic musculoskeletal conditions. By harnessing the mechanical energy of shockwaves, this treatment stimulates the body’s natural healing processes, resulting in pain relief and improved function. 

Whether you’re struggling with tendinopathies, plantar fasciitis, or other musculoskeletal issues, it’s worth considering shockwave therapy as a viable treatment option. For shockwave physiotherapy in Edmonton, discuss your treatment options with our team at Turning Point Physical Therapy. 

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