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Shockwave Therapy for Chronic Pain Management: A New Hope for Aucklanders

Updated: Apr 4

Chronic Pain & Shockwave Therapy

Chronic pain is a complex and multifaceted condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is defined as pain that persists for more than three months, often despite the fact that an injury or illness has healed. Unlike acute pain, which serves as a protective mechanism alerting the body to potential injury, chronic pain can be persistent and debilitating, significantly impacting an individual's quality of life.


Chronic pain auckland

Neuroscience Behind Chronic Pain

The neuroscience of chronic pain is complex, involving an intricate interplay between the nervous system and various biochemical processes. At its core, chronic pain involves changes to the way pain signals are processed by the nervous system. This can include:


  • Central Sensitisation: An increase in the sensitivity of the central nervous system to stimulation, making it more likely to interpret signals as painful. This can lead to the phenomenon of pain being experienced even in the absence of a clear cause.

  • Neuroplasticity: The nervous system's ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections. While neuroplasticity can be beneficial for learning and recovery from brain injury, it can also lead to the persistence of pain signals in chronic pain conditions.

  • Alterations in Neurotransmitters: Changes in the levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and substance P, can affect pain perception. These changes can enhance the transmission of pain signals within the central nervous system.



Chronic pain and brain


Common Musculoskeletal Conditions Associated with Chronic Pain

Musculoskeletal conditions encompass a wide range of disorders that affect the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Many of these conditions can lead to chronic pain, significantly impacting an individual's quality of life and ability to perform daily activities.


  • Osteoarthritis: A degenerative joint disease characterised by the breakdown of cartilage, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: An autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the joints, resulting in pain, swelling, and potential joint damage.

  • Fibromyalgia: A condition characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues.

  • Chronic Back Pain: Often resulting from a combination of factors, including poor posture, repetitive strain, injury, or degenerative conditions such as disc disease.

  • Tendonitis: The inflammation of a tendon, the thick fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. Common causes include repetitive actions that put stress on the tendons, sudden injuries, and ageing.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A condition that causes numbness, tingling, or weakness in the hand. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, is pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The condition can be caused by repetitive motion of the wrist, wrist injuries, or anything that causes swelling and narrowing of the carpal tunnel.

  • Rotator Cuff Injuries: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder joint in place and allow for a wide range of motion of the shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries can be caused by acute injuries, chronic overuse, or the degeneration of tendon tissue over time.

  • Degenerative Disc Disease: This refers to the symptoms of pain and possibly radiating weakness or numbness stemming from a degenerated disc in the spine. The primary cause is the natural ageing process, with the discs losing their flexibility, elasticity, and shock-absorbing characteristics over time.



Challenges in Managing Chronic Pain with Conventional Treatments

Conventional treatment methods for chronic pain often include medication, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery. However, these approaches can struggle to effectively manage chronic pain for several reasons:


  • Complexity of Pain Perception: Because chronic pain involves both physical and psychological components, treatments that only address the physical aspect may not be fully effective.

  • Tolerance and Dependence: Patients may develop tolerance to pain medications, such as opioids, requiring higher doses for the same level of pain relief, which can also lead to dependence.

  • Side Effects: Many medications used to treat chronic pain can have significant side effects, limiting their long-term usability.

  • Individual Variability: There is considerable variability in how individuals experience and respond to pain, making it challenging to find a one-size-fits-all treatment approach.


Cycle of pain auckland


The Rise of Shockwave Therapy in Auckland

Auckland's healthcare landscape has been quick to adopt Shockwave therapy, recognising its potential to transform the lives of individuals suffering from chronic pain.


Our clinic, Movement Mechanics Osteopathy Auckland, is the first Osteopathic Clinic in New Zealand to adopt EMS DolorClast® Radial Shockwave Therapy. Shockwave therapy has been an effective pain management tool for healthcare providers across Auckland.


The global adoption of radial shockwave therapy is driven by the therapy's effectiveness, safety profile, and the growing demand for non-invasive treatment options.


Best Shockwave Therapy Auckland

Comparative Analysis with Traditional Treatments

Shockwave therapy stands out when compared to traditional chronic pain management strategies, such as medication and physical therapy, due to its unique mechanism of action and long-term benefits.


Shockwave vs. Medication

Unlike pain medication, which often offers temporary relief and comes with potential side effects, Shockwave therapy addresses the underlying causes of pain. It promotes healing and recovery, providing a more sustainable solution.


Shockwave vs. Physical Therapy

While physical therapy is an essential component of rehabilitation, Shockwave therapy can accelerate the healing process by enhancing blood circulation and tissue regeneration, offering a complementary approach to conventional physical therapy techniques.


Exercise and medication vs Shockwave therapy auckland

Understanding the Mechanism of Shockwave Therapy

The success of Shockwave therapy lies in its ability to target pain at its source. Let's explore the technical and biological aspects that make this possible.


Technical Insights

Shockwave therapy machines generate high-energy acoustic waves that are transmitted to the affected area through a handheld device. The energy, delivered in short bursts, penetrates deep into the tissues, reaching areas that are often difficult to treat with other methods.


Biological Effects on Chronic Pain

The biological response to Shockwave therapy includes the release of substances that inhibit pain signals, the breakdown of scar tissue, and the stimulation of collagen production. These effects collectively contribute to pain reduction, enhanced mobility, and tissue repair.


How Shock Waves Work Auckland

Types of Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy can be categorized into focused and radial types, each suited for different conditions and depths of penetration.


Focused Shockwave Therapy

Focused Shockwave therapy is characterized by high-precision shockwaves directed at specific, deep-seated areas of pain. This type is particularly effective for conditions like deep muscle pain or bone-related discomfort.


Radial Shockwave Therapy

Radial Shockwave therapy, on the other hand, disperses energy over a broader area, making it ideal for treating larger, superficial tissues. This variant is commonly used for conditions like plantar fasciitis or tennis elbow.


Types of Shockwave Therapy

Benefits of Shockwave Therapy for Chronic Pain

The advantages of Shockwave therapy extend beyond its non-invasive nature, offering tangible benefits for those struggling with chronic pain. Not everyone is a candidate for Shockwave therapy. It's important to understand who can benefit from this treatment and what considerations need to be taken into account. Candidates for Shockwave therapy typically have chronic pain conditions that have not responded well to other treatments. A thorough assessment by a healthcare professional is necessary to determine suitability. There are certain conditions, such as pregnancy, blood clotting disorders, or the presence of pacemakers, where Shockwave therapy may not be advised. A detailed medical history and consultation with a specialist are essential to ensure safety and effectiveness.


Pain Reduction

The most immediate benefit reported by patients is a significant reduction in pain, often after just a few sessions. This relief is attributed to the therapy's ability to disrupt pain signals and promote natural healing processes.


Improved Mobility

By addressing the root cause of pain and facilitating tissue repair, Shockwave therapy often results in improved mobility and functionality, allowing patients to engage in activities that were previously too painful.


Musculoskeletal Disorders

Shockwave therapy has shown promise in treating a wide range of conditions, particularly those related to the musculoskeletal system. Conditions like shoulder tendinitis, Achilles tendinopathy, and other chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes have been successfully treated with Shockwave therapy, offering hope to those who have exhausted other treatment options.


Tendinopathies, which are painful conditions affecting the tendons, respond particularly well to Shockwave therapy. The treatment's ability to stimulate collagen production and blood flow aids in the healing of damaged tendons, reducing pain and improving function.


Radial Shock Wave Therapy Auckland


The Patient Experience in Auckland

Going through Shockwave therapy in Auckland involves a series of steps, from preparation to the actual treatment sessions.


Preparing for Therapy

Patients are typically advised to avoid anti-inflammatory medications before their Shockwave therapy sessions to maximise the treatment's effectiveness. A consultation will outline what to expect during and after the therapy.


During the Therapy Session

Shockwave therapy sessions are relatively quick, often lasting no more than 30 minutes. While some patients may experience mild discomfort during the treatment, the process is generally well-tolerated, with no need for anaesthesia.


Treatment Costs

The cost of Shockwave therapy can vary widely, but it is generally considered a cost-effective option, especially when considering its potential to reduce the need for more expensive and invasive treatments.


Insurance Coverage and Accessibility

While some insurance plans may cover Shockwave therapy, coverage can vary. It's important to check with individual insurance providers and explore options for financial assistance if needed.


FAQs about Shockwave Therapy for Chronic Pain


What is Shockwave therapy, and how does it work

Shockwave therapy, or Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT), is a non-invasive treatment used for a range of musculoskeletal conditions. It employs high-energy sound waves directed at affected areas to promote healing and reduce pain. These shockwaves stimulate blood flow, encourage tissue regeneration, break down calcifications, and restore mobility by reducing scar tissue. The process involves generating a controlled microtrauma to the tissue, which in turn activates the body's innate repair mechanisms, leading to accelerated healing. Commonly treated conditions include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, tennis elbow, and shoulder tendinitis, among others. Treatments are quick, typically lasting 5 to 15 minutes, and can significantly improve symptoms after just a few sessions. While some patients may experience mild discomfort during the procedure, shockwave therapy is recognised for its effectiveness in pain management and mobility restoration, offering a valuable alternative to invasive surgical options. Always consult with a healthcare provider to determine if shockwave therapy is suitable for your specific condition.

Is Shockwave Therapy painful?

How many sessions of Shockwave Therapy will I need?

Can Shockwave Therapy cure my condition?

Are there any side effects of Shockwave Therapy?

How do I know if I'm suitable for Shockwave Therapy?


Conclusion: Embracing a Pain-Free Future

Shockwave therapy represents a significant advancement in the management of chronic pain, offering Aucklanders a new avenue for relief and recovery. Its non-invasive nature, combined with the potential for long-term benefits, makes it an attractive option for those seeking alternatives to traditional pain management strategies. As we continue to witness the positive impact of Shockwave therapy on the lives of those it touches, it's clear that this innovative treatment is paving the way toward a pain-free future.


 

Jonathan Hall M.Ost, BAppSci (Human Biology), PGCertHSc (Acupuncture), GradDipHeal


Jonathan Hall is the founder and principal Osteopath at Movement Mechanics Osteopathy. Jonathan specialises in Shockwave Therapy and Western medical acupuncture. A fully qualified Osteopath registered with OCNZ, PNZ, PAANZ and ACC, Jonathan also founded Auckland Shockwave Therapy to help bring evidence-based Shockwave treatment to New Zealand using the industry-leading EMS Radial Shock Wave device.



Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


© Movement Mechanics Osteopathy Auckland 2023. All rights reserved.

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