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Shockwave therapy

Shockwave: The Key To Treating Your Foot, Leg, Shoulder Or Arm Pain?

The past decade has seen New Zealand’s physios, podiatrists and a range of musculoskeletal health professionals welcome ‘shockwave’ treatment into their clinics due to its promising and proven results of pain reduction and accelerated healing of musculoskeletal injuries. 

Despite its disconcerning name, shockwave treatment is often associated with minimal pain, instead delivering pain-relieving benefits following the treatment for many. The treatment time is fast, typically totalling no more than 5-10 minutes of active shockwaves, and the process is non-invasive, meaning it doesn’t require injections, anaesthesia or surgery.

If you’re dealing with a painful injury, regardless of whether it’s a tennis elbow that you’ve had for weeks or Achilles pain that has never truly gone away years later, here’s why it may be worthwhile to try shockwave.

How Does Shockwave Work?

Shockwave treatment involves your practitioner locating the damaged area, such as the bottom of the heel if you have heel pain, applying a gel over the site, and positioning the handpiece of the shockwave device in direct contact with the gel and skin. The device is activated with the flick of a switch where it generates high-energy acoustic waves that are effectively transmitted through the gel and carried directly into the problem area. 

The acoustic waves then interact with the damaged tissues and cells to produce healing, restorative and pain relieving effects. The body is stimulated by the effects of shockwave in many ways, including:

  • Reducing pain – by reducing the concentration of a neurotransmitter called substance P involved in feeling pain
  • Promoting new blood vessels to form – blood flow carries oxygen and nutrients, so the more that gets to an injured area, the better for the repair process
  • Stimulating collagen production – collagen is an essential component of repairing certain tissues, so helping produce more helps to optimise the repair process
  • Helping reverse ongoing (chronic) inflammation and instead kickstart the normal healing process
  • Helping release trigger points in the muscles
  • Helping break up calcifications in the tendon fibres which may have previous built up from injury

What Can Shockwave Help With?

Shockwave is being used for a wide range of upper and lower body problems, some common uses being:

  • Heel pain (plantar fasciitis) – studies have shown shockwave to make significant improvements in the pain, function and quality of life of patients with heel pain, with results in as little as three weeks that continued to improve thereafter
  • Achilles pain – shockwave is shown to significantly reduce pain and contribute to an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ recovery of the Achilles tendon, including when the injury has been longstanding
  • Knee pain – shockwave has been effective in reducing pain and improving the physical function for those with knee osteoarthritis and a range of knee tendinopathies
  • Tennis elbow – shockwave shows a significant pain reduction, improvement of inflammation at the elbow and overall improvement
  • Shoulder pain – shockwave is found to be effective in managing pain and improving shoulder function for impingement syndrome, rotator cuff calcifications and rotator cuff tendonitis
  • Shin pain – using shockwave alongside an exercise program showed a much faster recovery from shin splints than the exercise program alone
  • Hip pain – shockwave is found as an effective treatment for greater trochanteric pain syndrome

Been Told You Need Steroid Injections Or Surgery? Try Shockwave First

One of the other reasons that shockwave has gained great popularity over the years is because its effects can help you avoid steroid injections, surgery and other medications, instead working naturally to stimulate the body’s own repair process. There’s no downtime or recovery after the treatment either, meaning there’s no need to take time off work or away from your daily life.

Shockwave Is Affordable With HealthNow

While accessing shockwave is no longer an issue in New Zealand with a wide range of clinics offering this service around the country, paying the upfront cost is another story. With up to 39% of people choosing not to attend a medical appointment when they have needed to due to the cost, the shockwave fee can pose a firm barrier to getting this promising treatment. This can leave many continuing to take painkillers to temporarily reduce their symptoms instead of treating the actual problem for good.

This is where HealthNow, New Zealand’s only health-focused Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform, has stepped in to bridge the affordability gap at no cost to users. Used as an app on your smartphone, your total appointment cost is split over up to six weeks, leaving your upfront cost at only a fraction of what it would otherwise be.

Unlike other BNPL services that charge fees or interest, which further disadvantage those that are in pain and are trying to be proactive about their health, HealthNow remains completely free to users, with partnering clinics that are offering shockwave being paid in full by HealthNow on the day of the visit. 

You can start using HealthNow today by signing up on the app. You can also check out HealthNow’s full benefits and features, including a health wallet to store funds set aside for health services that can be contributed to by others including your employer.

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