In the vast field of physical therapy, shockwave therapy has recently garnered considerable attention. As a non-surgical treatment, it has shown remarkable success in addressing a range of musculoskeletal conditions, including plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, and shoulder tendinitis, among others. But the one question that lurks in the back of patients’ minds remains: “Does shockwave therapy hurt?” 

This post aims to answer that question while shedding light on this innovative treatment modality.

Understanding Shockwave Therapy

To adequately grasp the nature of the discomfort (or lack thereof) associated with shockwave therapy, it’s essential to understand how the treatment works. Shockwave therapy uses energy from acoustic waves to initiate a process called neovascularization in specific parts of the body. Neovascularization triggers the formation of new blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow and facilitating faster healing and regeneration of the tissues.

Does Shockwave Therapy Hurt?

The sensation experienced during shockwave therapy is subjective and can vary greatly among patients. Some people describe it as a slight flicking or tapping sensation, while others may liken it to a more intense throb or sting. A patient’s tolerance and the treatment area’s sensitivity also play significant roles in determining the degree of discomfort experienced.

Most practitioners begin the procedure at a lower intensity, gradually increasing it depending on the patient’s comfort level. Local anaesthesia or numbing creams can be used in cases where the patient finds the treatment uncomfortable, although this is usually not necessary.

What to Expect Post-Therapy?

After the therapy, you might experience a temporary reddening or swelling of the treated area, possibly accompanied by a minor ache, similar to what one might feel after a vigorous workout. This post-therapy sensation is due to the inflammatory response triggered by the treatment, an integral part of the healing process.

Pain Management During Shockwave Therapy

If you’re apprehensive about the potential discomfort, rest assured that physical therapists employ various strategies to ensure patients’ comfort. The intensity of the shockwaves can be adjusted based on your pain tolerance, and the rate of delivery can be altered to ensure the experience isn’t outside your comfort and tolerance.

Furthermore, engaging in open communication with your therapist is crucial. Inform them immediately if you feel any distress during the session so they can adjust the treatment accordingly. Some therapists use the principle of ‘relative rest’, allowing for brief periods of rest during the therapy to manage discomfort more effectively.

So, Does Shockwave Therapy Hurt?

While it’s valid to consider the comfort factor of shockwave therapy, it’s equally important to focus on the potential benefits. Numerous studies have shown that shockwave therapy can significantly improve the quality of life for patients suffering from various musculoskeletal conditions.

While some discomfort may be associated with the treatment, it’s generally described as mild and temporary. Furthermore, physical therapists have numerous strategies at their disposal to ensure patients’ comfort during the procedure.

So, does shockwave therapy hurt? The answer is, it depends. For the majority of people the answer is no, however, it may be uncomfortable. That said, the potential discomfort should not overshadow the therapy’s benefits, which make it a viable alternative to surgical interventions for many patients. The treatment shouldn’t be painful, and your practitioner will go to considerable effort to ensure it’s as comfortable as possible for you.

If you’d like to book an appointment or chat with one of our specialists, book online now, or pop into our Northwich clinic for a chat.

Categories: Shockwave Therapy