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Different Type of Shockwave Therapy Explained

If you are dealing with chronic pain or a musculoskeletal condition like plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, or arthritis, you might be looking for less invasive treatment options. Shockwave therapy offers an alternative to more invasive procedures like steroid injections or surgical intervention while still providing significant relief from pain. 

In this post we’ll cover:


What Is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment practice that uses high-energy sound waves to stimulate healing and improve function in damaged tissue. This helps reduce pain, jumpstart the body’s healing process, and even helps patients regain mobility. 

There are many different types of therapies available that claim to be “shockwave”, but they are not all equal. Each has its own intended uses and benefits.

Here’s everything you need to know about the different types of shockwave technology so you can find one that’s best for your needs.

Different Types of Shockwaves

 

Electrohydraulic

Shockwave Type: Focused Shockwave Therapy (FSWT)

Best For: 

  • Pain
  • Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Musculoskeletal Conditions
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Regeneration Therapy

Electrohydraulic shockwaves, also known as low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), is a medical treatment option that stimulates healing and reduces pain. Linear Li-ESWT uses low-energy shockwaves to promote the healing and regeneration of damaged tissues. This type of shockwave therapy is generally used to treat musculoskeletal conditions like back pain, joint pain, and injuries. During an ESWT treatment session, your healthcare provider will use a specific type of shockwave machine to deliver a series of low-energy shockwaves to the affected area. They will apply the shockwaves to damaged tissue, which then stimulates the production of new blood vessels and proteins, which can help to improve the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the area and speed up the healing process.

Electromagnetic

Shockwave Type: Focused Shockwave Therapy (FSWT)

Best For: 

  • Cancer treatment
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Brain tumors
  • Uterine Fibroids

Electromagnetic shockwaves are high-energy waves created by an electromagnetic field. In medical settings, electromagnetic shockwaves are often used for treatments such as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and radiosurgery. In HIFU, electromagnetic shockwaves are focused on a specific area of the body, such as the prostate gland or the uterus, to heat and destroy abnormal tissue. This type of procedure can be used to treat conditions such as prostate cancer or uterine fibroids. In radiosurgery, electromagnetic shockwaves are used to deliver a high dose of radiation to a specific area of the body, such as the brain or the spine. This can be used to treat conditions such as brain tumors or spinal cord injuries.

Piezoelectric

Shockwave Type: Focused Shockwave Therapy (FSWT)

Best For: 

  • Kidney Stones
  • Gall Stones

Piezoelectric shockwave therapy, also known as piezoelectric lithotripsy, is a type of medical procedure that uses focused high-energy shockwaves to break up kidney stones or gallstones. This is a non-invasive procedure often performed on an outpatient basis. During the procedure, a healthcare provider will use an ultrasound or X-ray to locate the stone within the body. A small probe is then placed on the skin over the stone, and a shockwave machine generates a series of high-energy shockwaves. The shockwaves break the stone into small pieces, which allows you to pass it naturally and with minimal discomfort. Piezoelectric shockwave lithotripsy is generally considered to be a safe and effective treatment for kidney stones and gallstones, but it may not be suitable for everyone. Talk to your doctor about the most appropriate treatment option for your specific condition.

Radial Waves

Shockwave Type: Unfocused / Radial Shockwave Therapy (RSWT)

Best For: 

  • Pain
  • Soft Tissue Conditions
  • Regeneration Therapy

Radial waves are high-energy pressure waves and technically not a true shockwave according to the International Society for Medical Shockwave Treatment. Radial pressure waves are focused on a specific area of the body to stimulate the production of new blood vessels and collagen. This type of shockwave therapy targets damaged tissues or nerves with radial shockwaves that can be useful for conditions like tendonitis, bursitis, and plantar fasciitis. Radial waves used for shockwave therapy are considered a non-invasive procedure because it does not require an incision or anesthesia.

Radial vs Focused Shockwaves

The key difference between radial and unfocused shockwave therapy is that radial shockwave therapy produces unfocused shockwaves over a wider area, while focused shockwave therapy concentrates energy on a precise focal point. This produces different effects and results that yield different pros and cons for each.

What is Radial Shockwave Therapy?

Radial shockwave therapy (RSWT) generates unfocused shockwaves that radiate out in a 360-degree radius. The shockwaves are applied to a wider surface area, rather than a single focused point. This allows RSWT to treat larger regions of tissue. The pressure waves work by causing microtrauma to the affected area which stimulates the body’s natural healing response.

RSWT is considered less invasive than focused shockwave therapy. It does not require targeting a specific point and is often applied without anesthesia or sedation. It typically utilizes lower energy intensities than focused shockwaves. RSWT is primarily used to treat chronic plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and other tendonopathies. It can help reduce pain and improve mobility in these common orthopedic conditions.

What is Focused Shockwave Therapy?

Focused shockwave therapy (FSWT) uses focused shockwaves directed at a precise target point. This type of shockwave is generated using electrohydraulic, electromagnetic, or piezoelectric principles. The waves are focused using geometric lenses to concentrate the energy at a small focal area.

FSWT utilizes higher energy intensities and can reach deeper tissue levels. The focused shockwaves help trigger healing through mechanotransduction, breaking up scar tissue and calcifications. FSWT is often used to treat chronic plantar fasciitis, delayed bone healing, and chronic tendinopathies like tennis elbow. Local anesthesia is typically required due to the higher energy intensities.

High Energy vs Low Energy Shockwaves

Within the different types of shockwave technologies, each therapy will use either high (focused) or low energy (unfocused) shockwaves. These therapies all use the underlying technology to stimulate healing and improve blood flow in injured or damaged tissue. However, the types of shockwaves used will determine which might be best for you based on your needs.

High-Energy Shockwave Therapy (Focused Shockwave Treatment)

High-energy shockwave therapy uses high-energy sound waves to stimulate healing in damaged tissues. Higher frequency waves focus directly on the affected tisue, which promotes healing in a smaller, more targeted area. This type of shockwave treatment is more commonly used to treat conditions such as kidney stones and cancers. 

Examples of High-Energy Focused Shockwave Treatments:

  • GAINSwave
  • PulseWave
  • CuraWave
  • Swiss DolorClast

Low-Energy Shockwave Therapy (Unfocused Shockwave Treatment)

Low-energy shockwave therapy, also known as low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (Li-ESWT), uses low-energy shockwaves to stimulate healing in damaged tissues. It is often used to treat musculoskeletal injuries and conditions like tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and plantar fasciitis, as well as chronic pain conditions like neuropathy. Low-energy shockwave therapy stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities and is shown to provide lasting relief from pain, injuries, or other chronic conditions. 

Examples of Low-Energy Unfocused Shockwave Treatments:

  • SoftWave (the ONLY true unfocused shockwave treatment on the market)

Choosing the Right Shockwave Therapy For You

With all the different types of shockwave therapy available on the market, it can be helpful to do some research and compare the different options to determine which one may be the most suitable for your needs. Some factors to consider when choosing a shockwave therapy include the specific condition you’re treating, the severity of your condition or location of your injury, and the type of shockwave therapy being used. 

Most importantly, if you are considering shockwave therapy, it is important to speak with a medical professional to determine the best treatment option for you.

Originalhealthinstitute-extra

The Best Shockwave Therapy for Pain

Are you looking for safe, reliable, and effective relief from pain caused by soft tissue injuries and conditions? 

SoftWave therapy is FDA-cleared, patented, and nationally recognized for its leading tissue regeneration technology. Unlike other types of high-energy shockwave treatments, SoftWave is the only shockwave therapy on the market that uses true unfocused shock waves that treat larger and deeper areas of tissue. 

Thousands of patient’s have experienced the benefits of SoftWave, including:

  • Little to no side effects
  • Short treatment time
  • Quick recovery
  • Long-lasting results

Find a provider at a SoftWave clinic near you or learn more about SoftWave and whether or not you’re eligible for full treatment today!

New Patient Special

Try SoftWave for just $69 at a clinic near you and learn if you’re a candidate for full treatment

SoftWave Machine

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