How Does Shockwave Therapy Work to Relieve Pain and Help Healing?

If you are having any injuries to tendons, ligaments, or hamstrings, your doctor can provide you with suggestions about opting for shockwave therapy. Well, before we discuss it in detail, it is good to mention here that it is not similar to “shock therapy” (electroconvulsive therapy), which is probably seen in many movies and drama serials in a very different manner.

What Is Shockwave Therapy?

This is a non-invasive treatment that includes applying high-energy shockwaves to alleviate pain and stimulate healing to release growth factors, collagen synthesis, and soft tissue calcification. It keeps your body active.

Shockwave therapy or ESWT (extracorporeal shockwave therapy), is used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions, such as

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Stress fracture
  • Strained hamstrings, and calved
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Frozen shoulder 
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Golfer or tennis elbow
  • Treating a non-union fracture (a broken bone that hasn’t been cured yet).
shockwave therapy

It has gained popularity because of its non-invasive nature, shorter recovery time, and potential to increase the healing process, making it a good solution for people seeking improved mobility and pain management.

How Does it Work?

The initial clinical application of ESWT therapy was developed in the 1980s when it was first used in lithotripsy (to break down kidney stones), and then it was found quite useful in various other techniques such as orthopedics, and sports injuries in the rehabilitation process.

Shockwave therapy works by using a device that generates and transmits acoustic and high-amplitude waves to the targeted areas of the body.

  1. Rapid and high-pressure acoustic waves are generated through a device. These waves have a shorter lifespan and a higher duration.

  2. The physiotherapist will identify a potential area where the shockwaves can be applied. This is done with the help of imaging tests such as ultrasound to ensure the accuracy of the whole process.

  3. When shockwaves reach the affected region, they start creating microtrauma at the cellular level. It stimulates the natural healing process of the body, promoting the release of multiple growth factors and stimulating the process of angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels), which helps in repairing damaged tissues.

  4. When the transmission of pain signals occurs in the nerves, it helps reduce pain and inflammation with increased blood flow.

  5. Individuals often undergo several sessions over several weeks and each session lasts for about 15 to 20 minutes. The improvement of functionality is a gradual process that may continue for about a week or months after a treatment is done.
how it work

Benefits of Shock Wave Therapy

Pain Reduction

Shock wave therapy helps trigger the release of natural painkillers such as endorphins, which further increase the sensations of pleasure and disrupt the pain signals. Additionally, improving blood flow to the targeted regions helps with pain reduction. 

It also helps in breaking down unhealthy tissues, which further increases mobility by alleviating pain.

Enhanced Blood Circulation

Through the process of angiogenesis, ESWT helps in the formation of new blood vessels by improving oxygen and nutrient delivery. This increased blood flow accelerates the body’s natural healing process, which further helps in reduced pain, tissue regeneration, and overall healing.

Tissue Regeneration

Shock therapy delivers high-energy shock waves to the targeted tissue, which stimulate the production of growth factors, enhancing cell proliferation and tissue repair mechanisms. By stimulating the synthesis of collagen, a crucial protein helping in tissue repair and structure. 

Overall, shock wave therapy’s ability to stimulate vascular and cellular processes plays an important role in tissue regeneration and healing in musculoskeletal conditions.

Low Risk

As shock-wave therapy has a non-invasive nature focused on the external part of the injured area, thereby eliminating the need for incisions and anesthesia, it contains very minimal side effects. It therefore reduces the risks associated with prolonged recovery, infections from surgical operations, and so on. 

Because of the relatively short recovery time, it enables individuals to resume daily tasks early.

Long-lasting Effects

With the formation of new blood vessels and collagen synthesis, the benefits of the treatment remain for a prolonged time, offering improved functionality and sustained pain relief. The approach has addressed the root causes of pain and problems, resulting in improved quality of life for patients in the long term.


Shockwave therapy’s ability to provide significant benefits with reduced healthcare expenditures makes it cost-effective. It also eliminates surgery-related costs like anesthesia, hospitalization, and extended recovery. It minimizes both consultation and rehabilitation-related expenses, making it economical for a wide variety of patients. 

Moreover, it can reduce expenses on ongoing treatment or medications, which contributes to significant cost savings. This cost-efficiency, combined with improved quality of life and productivity, makes it a viable option for managing various musculoskeletal conditions.

Improvement in Productivity

By enhancing the functionality of any individual, it enables individuals to return to their daily activities sooner. This improvement in the productivity of an individual makes them able to contribute to society and the economy, further making the treatment cost-effective.

Follow-up Care

After the initial shockwave therapy is done, follow-up sessions are given to sustain the results, which are even more affordable compared to the initial treatments. With time, the need for follow-up care is often reduced, resulting in long-term cost savings for individuals managing chronic musculoskeletal conditions.

Does Shockwave Therapy Hurt?

However, it varies from person to person and the part you are treating. For example, if you are taking treatment on the hip, it can be a little painful as compared to the calf. But on average, most patients say it was a little painful but not painful.

If you have sustained any soft tissue injury that isn’t recovering with conservative methods, we suggest you opt for shockwave therapy for better results. 

For more information, please go through our website or just contact us. Our professional team is here to assist you with your needs.