A “shockwave” is the energy created when any object travels faster than the speed of sound.
Shockwaves are also sometimes also called “acoustic pressure waves”.
Shockwave therapy uses these waves via a specialised machine to help in a range of musculoskeletal conditions.
The goal is to bring about pain relief and injury healing.
Studies have shown that extracorporeal shock wave therapy is an effective, safe and non-invasive treatment option for patients with musculoskeletal disorders (1).
DolorClast® Radial Shock Wave therapy is a clinically proven method of treating musculoskeletal disorders, supported by randomized clinical trials.
Shockwave therapy works in two ways.
- It lowers the concentration of one of the chemicals needed for your body to perceive pain.
- It interferes with the inflammation process, which may help to kickstart the healing process.
Shockwave therapy has a number of possible uses.
Some of the more common ones are:
- Achilles tendinopathy (mid portion and insertional)
- Upper back pain
- Lower back pain
- Myofascial trigger points
- Psuedoradicular lower back pain
- Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis)
- Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
- Bone marrow oedema
- Plantar fasciitis
- Greater trochanteric pain syndrome
- Patella tip syndrome
- Medial tibial stress syndrome
- Osgood-Shlatter disease
- “Shin splints”
- Subacromial pain syndrome
- Calcifying tendinitis of the shoulder
This list is not exhaustive- there are many other possible uses for shockwave therapy. Please discuss with your Osteopath.
Shockwave therapy treatments usually last between 3 to 5 minutes.
If your Osteopath believes it is necessary, they may also add Osteopathic techniques into your treatment plan.
8 or 9 out of 10 patients will experience significant relief of symptoms within 3 – 5 treatments.
Depending on the site and severity of your condition, shockwave therapy can be uncomfortable.
However, almost everyone can tolerate the treatment.
In most cases, the pain will ease or cease within around 60 seconds, as the machine starts to do its job.
A successful shockwave treatment is all about communication between the practitioner and the patient.
You are free to communicate with your Osteopath at any time if the discomfort is too great.
They can either make adjustments on the machine or discontinue treatment.
There are a number of shockwave machines on the market that are not actually capable of producing the bar pressure required to generate a change in the tissues.
Due to these machines running at a lower bar pressure, they are often marketed as “painless”.
Whilst this may seem like a good thing, the reality is that in order for the full effect of the machine to be stimulated, there needs to be some depletion of one of the chemical pain messengers.
In plain terms, machines that can’t properly generate enough bar pressure to produce some level of discomfort won’t disrupt the pain messangers enough to produce a therapeutic benefit.
The Swiss DolorClast machine used at Lifespan Osteopathy is the only machine approved by the FDA due to its ability to demonstrate both safety and efficacy.
I.e. treatments with the machine used in our clinic are not only safe, but they work.
This means that whilst treatments may initially be uncomfortable, you can rest assured that the technology being used has been proven to the highest possible standard that it is actually effective.
Finally, each of our practitioners have had the opportunity to have shockwave therapy performed on them. They know exactly what it feels like, and wouldn’t perform any technique on you that they wouldn’t have done themselves. So it’s really not as scary as it sounds!
The short answer is- not much.
It’s possible that you may feel some discomfort following the treatment.
Simple strategies such as rest and paracetamol may be helpful.
Do not take anti-inflammatories (such as Nurofen or Voltaren), as these may interfere with the healing process kickstarted by the Shockwave therapy. Similarly, avoid icing the area.
It’s also advisable to rest from aggravating activities for 2-3 days following each session.
Studies have shown that 8 to 9 out of 10 patients will experience full pain and injury resolution for up to 9 years.
This of course means that 1 or 2 out of 10 patients will not see such positive results.
If you are not likely to respond to Shockwave therapy, it is usually apparent after the first 2 treatments.
If you do not experience pain relief after the first 2 treatments, your Osteopath will discuss the possible next steps with you.
As shockwave is considered a first line treatment for musculoskeletal conditions, patients who do not respond favourably may be candidates for more invasive treatments such as cortisone or surgery.
Shockwave cannot be used in the following groups of people:
- Pregnant women
- Children under the age of 18 years, except in the case of Osgood-Schlatter’s disease
- People with blood clotting disorders
- People on blood thinners
- Treatment of of tissue with local tumours or local bacterial and/or viral infections
- Treatment of patients who have used cortisone within preceding six weeks
These are known possible risk of Shockwave treatment:
- Pain and discomfort during and after treatment
- Reddening of the skin
- Petechiae (tiny red, purple or brown spots on the skin)- usually resolves within 48-72 hours
- Swelling and numbness of the skin over the treatment area
There are also possible severe complications if Shockwave therapy is used incorrectly, or in the wrong patient groups.
This is why a thorough initial consultation and screening process is necessary.
The following are possible complications:
- Potential damage of the lung and gut tissue
- Potential rupture of pre-ruptured tendons
- Potential damage of ithe growth plates if used in children who are still growing
- Possible spread of malignant tumours
- Potential damage of articular cartilage
Prior to undertaking any Shockwave therapy, your Osteopath will conduct a thorough case history.
This is to allow them to gain a full understanding of your injury, as well as any other important factors such as your medication regime (if any) and surgical history. This will help determine if shockwave is right for you.
Your Osteopath will also most likely provide hands-on Osteopathic treatment. This is to ensure that the mechanics of the area being treated as working as efficiently as possible. This will allow for the best possible response to treatment.
We take the time during your initial consultation to not only take the steps outlined above, but to give you a thorough explanation of what you can expect from Shockwave therapy.
If your Osteopath agrees that Shockwave is the best treatment pathway for you, you may receive Shockwave Therapy at either your first or second consultation, depending on a number of factors in your case.
If you proceed with Shockwave Therapy, we’ll also schedule in your follow up appointments at the ideal intervals at the conclusion of your Initial Consultation, to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
No, a referral is not required for Shockwave therapy.
However, as it is a proven tool in the management of chronic musculoskeletal conditions, you may be eligible for referral from your GP for a Chronic Disease Management plan if your condition has been present for more than 6 months.
This will allow Medicare to contribute towards the cost of Shockwave therapy, although a gap fee will still apply.
Yes, as Shockwave therapy is administered by qualified, registered Osteopaths as part of an Osteopathic treatment plan, your usual private health fund rebates will apply if you have Extras cover.
If you’d like to claim a Private health insurance rebate, please check with your individual fund prior to making an appointment to ensure that you are covered for Osteopathic treatment. We have HICAPS facilities to process all claims on the spot.
Please note that Medicare rebates and Private Health insurance rebates cannot be combined to fund a single treatment.
There is no referral required to see a Women’s Health practitioner. Your Osteopath may can
work in conjunction with and communicate with your obstetrician, gynaecologist, general
practitioner, surgeon, or other healthcare provider throughout your treatment to ensure a
collaborative, team approach to your healthcare.
Please also wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing that is easy to take off if required.
In addiction, please bring any relevant scans and accompanying reports, such as
urodynamic studies, ultrasounds, surgery reports, x-rays, or MRIs, to your appointment.
New patients’ appointments will take up to one hour, to allow your practitioner time to make
sure they have covered everything about your presenting concern. Return appointments will
be 30 minutes. Extended appointments are available upon request and are advised if
treating various areas of the body. Feel free to contact our reception team or practitioner to
discuss which appointment type is best for you.
Your first consultation with your practitioner will consist of a detailed discussion about your
concerns and goals. We will ask a lot of questions about a range of different symptoms and
your health history to best understand you and your body. We will do an assessment of your
whole body and formulate a plan tailored to you to help you achieve your health and
You can come when menstruating – our practitioners are comfortable to treat you during this
time if you are comfortable with being treated. It is up to your own personal preference.
Pelvic health consultations can be done both internally and externally. There are a variety of
different ways that techniques can be modified to suit your specific preferences. Some
certain muscles benefit from a more direct approach to acquire treatment outcomes, but this
doesn’t mean it is a requirement if you are not comfortable with it. Some people may agree
to internal treatments one session, but don’t want it done the next, which is totally
fine! Consent is always reassessed at each step of your journey.
Treatment options are always tailored to the patient and will be discussed with you at length
in your appointment, and we give plenty of opportunity for you to ask questions to ensure
you are comfortable with the approach. We endeavour to make our consultation room a safe
and comfortable environment for all.
Internal treatment isn’t exclusive to those who have had children. Internal techniques, while
sometimes uncomfortable, can be used on any person with a vagina, if they consent to it. It
may be more comfortable for those who have experienced penetration before, whether via
cervical screen (pap smear), sexual intercourse, or previous internal assessment or
Any concerns about this can be answered within your appointment.
Like any treatment performed to muscles that are tight on the outside of the body, internal
treatments to the pelvic floor may cause some discomfort. Your practitioner will check in
regularly on the pressure being applied/techniques being applied to see how you are feeling.
Treatment techniques are tailored to how you feel and the body’s response to treatment, so
no more pressure than necessary will be applied.
Patients with chronic medical conditions and complex care needs may be eligible for a
Chronic Disease Management (CDM) rebate through Medicare. CDM services and Team Care Arrangements (TCA) are arranged by a patient’s general practitioner. Please discuss
your eligibility for this plan with your GP.
Yes, patients with private health insurance that includes “Extras Cover” may be covered for
Osteopathy services. Please check with your health fund to determine your coverage.
An assessment of the pelvic floor involves a variety of steps. Your practitioner will run through an assessment with lots of questions to best determine which approach will work best for you. They may suggest an internal assessment to you, but agreeing to this will be at your discretion. They may also assess your pelvis, low back, hips, and abdominals, as well as asking questions about your bladder and bowel function, lifestyle and exercise habits. All of this information will help your practitioner to determine the best course of action for your concerns, and a thorough treatment and management plan will be created based on your goals.
Performing regular and coordinated pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy can protect against incontinence symptoms and aid in your recovery post birth. Like any exercise prescription, it is important to make sure you are conduction your exercises properly and effectively, as well as making sure that what you are doing is appropriate for what your body needs. Tight pelvic floors and weak pelvic floors can often present very similarly, so it is often best to consult with your women’s health practitioner to help create a tailored plan that fits your body’s needs.