Could Shockwave Therapy Be For You?

Have you ever suffered from shoulder pain? Achilles pain? Heel pain? Tennis Elbow? Hamstring or Hip pain? And not known what to do? Or been told you have a tendinopathy? Or have you tried physiotherapy before, and it hasn’t always improved as quickly as you’d like or are you still suffering with these issues?

If you answered YES to any of those questions, then shockwave therapy could be a great treatment in conjunction with physiotherapy for YOU! Here at Thorpes Physiotherapy we are privileged to have access to this incredible device…..So what is it all about?

What is Shockwave?

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that uses acoustic sound waves to produce a pro-inflammatory and inflammatory response within the body tissue. The therapeutic device produces vibrations like impulses onto the affected area causing increased blood flow to the area as well as stimulating cells within the tissue leading to improved tissue regeneration! Due this impressive action, shockwave therapy kickstarts or reboots the healing process from a ‘stalled’ state, producing an analgesic effect leading to reducing pain!

How Does It Work?

The handheld probe which is very similar to a therapeutic ultrasound machine is pressed onto the affected area with gel to help the impulses reach the targeted tissue. The sound wave initiates an inflammatory response in the injured tissue and therefore prompts the body to respond naturally by increasing the blood circulation which helps restart the healing process!

The device produces fast repetitive impulses, which will feel like a vigorous tapping. Typically, your first treatment will start with a low-level intensity and increase over time to a point where you feel comfortable. The aim is to stimulate the area, thus meaning a minor level of discomfort may be felt when receiving the treatment. However, your therapist will monitor your symptoms throughout the application and the intensity can be altered.

How Can It Help Me?

Shockwave therapy is great for patients with both chronic and acute issues that are not progressing as quickly to hands on techniques or exercises. Research suggests that problems relating to tendons and muscles can be effectively treated via shockwave therapy.
Shockwave can be recommended to patients presenting with several conditions such as:

  • Achilles Pain (Achilles tendinopathy)
  • Heel Pain (Plantar fasciitis)
  • Hip Pain (Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome, gluteal tendinopathy)
  • Elbow Pain (Lateral and medial epicondylitis -tennis and golfers elbow)
  • Shoulder Pain (Rotator Cuff tendinopathy)
  • Hamstring Pain (Hamstring tendinopathy)
  • Knee Pain (Patella tendinopathy)
  • Neck Pain (Myofascial pain syndromes

Due to the analgesic affect this is an effective treatment for people struggling with long term pain. Through restarting the healing process patients can become more mobile without the restriction of pain. Shockwave is not used as a sole treatment but in conjunction with other physiotherapy treatment depending on what your physiotherapist recommends from your assessment.

Why Shockwave Could Be Right For You

Typically, the body will initiate a natural healing process within the affected area and start to rebuild the fibres of the tissue. In some cases, the healing process is halted, this is often due to insufficient rest and incorrect stimulation of the injured area resulting in the tissue now healing back to its normal state and can remain irritated and painful. This is where Shockwave Therapy can be very effective to help stimulate and restart the healing process and therefore in conjunction with physiotherapy the tissue can be reloaded in an appropriate way.

What To Expect During Shockwave Treatment

At Thorpes Physiotherapy we aim to approach the tendon itself that is currently affected with the main handheld shockwave device BUT also treating the associated musculature with the other handheld device called a V-actor. The V-actor provides a repetitive vibration sensation to help with associated trigger points and muscle tension, a bit like a massage! These two approaches help to ensure the entire effected areas are treated together which maximises positive treatment effects.

Evidence within research suggests that a minimum of three sessions must be completed in order to provide effective stimulation to the affected area with the optimum of six sessions. It is recommended that duration between treatment should be 5- 7 days to ensure the treatment effect is not lost between sessions. Here at Thorpes Physiotherapy, we offer Shockwave packages containing 3 or 6 sessions. Do not fear, we also offer Top-Up sessions if you feel you need just one more on top of the 3 or 6 sessions you’ve already used to maximise your recovery!

What To Expect After Shockwave Treatment

Common reports following treatment are a dampening of pain within the area which will allow improvement in range of movement and function. We encourage people receiving this treatment to refrain from moderate and vigorous physical activity for two days post treatment, as this may lead to overloading the affected area whilst it is healing.


There is medical evidence to support the treatments inclusion in the NICE guidelines. Improvements which have been reported;

  • 77% for Tennis Elbow
  • 90% improvement in Plantar Fascia symptoms
  • 75% for Achilles and Patellar Tendinopathy
  • 91% improvement for Calcific Tendinitis

Likelihood of overall improvement has been reported for many common conditions, percentage likelihood across all conditions range from 60% to 80% improvement from pre to post treatment. (NICE Guidelines).

If after reading this you’re interested in whether shockwave therapy is for you and you wish to book a physiotherapy appointment why not contact our team on: 01276 37670 or email us at:

We are offering FREE 15-minute discovery calls where one of our physiotherapists can call you to discuss your problem and ascertain whether you would benefit from physiotherapy. You can book online here or give us a call.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you for reading

Jessica Reed (BSc, SRP, MCSP, AACP)
Specialist MSK Physiotherapist