Everything You Should Know About Shockwave Therapy

When chronic pain is affecting your overall quality of life, you might be searching for other ways to alleviate your pain along with the treatment provided to you by your physician. For a non-invasive procedure to help manage chronic pain symptoms, one of the procedures that is getting traction in Singapore is shockwave therapy. To help shed some light on this procedure, here is all you need to know so that you can make an informed decision about the other options you have in alleviating pain.

What Is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy is a procedure that uses acoustic waves to improve various musculoskeletal conditions. It is administered using a handheld wand similar to a device used in ultrasound and helps manage pain using waves that stimulate blood flow, accelerate tissue repair, and alleviate pain. This procedure is typically recommended for individuals with a sports injury or chronic ache that just won’t mend

What Are the Types of Shockwave Therapies?

These are the two types of shockwave therapies:

Focused Shockwave Therapy

With focused shockwave therapy, the device generates waves that can penetrate deeper into the tissues. It provides power typically concentrated on a specific point, targeting a precise location. The waves are generated electromagnetically through a cylindrical coil, producing opposing magnetic fields when the current is applied. This procedure is typically for patients with acute sports injuries, knee and joint arthritis, bone and stress fractures, and shin splints, among others.  

Radial Shockwave Therapy

This is the more commonly used form of shockwave therapy at centres for physiotherapy in SingaporeRadial shockwave therapy delivers waves in a more spread-out pattern, making it ideal for alleviating surface-level pain and injuries. Waves produced by radial shockwave therapy are generated by a pneumatic system, which means it uses compressed air to improve the condition of the targeted area. The procedure is for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis or requires foot physiotherapy and tennis elbow physiotherapy, among others.

Pros and Cons of Shockwave Therapy

Identifying the benefits and drawbacks of shockwave therapy can help you determine whether you should undergo the procedure to supplement your chronic pain management treatment.

Benefits of Shockwave Therapy

Here are some of the advantages you can potentially gain when you undergo shockwave therapy:

  • It’s Non-Invasive: Stepping away from surgical interventions’ long recovery times and potential complications, shockwave therapy offers a more patient-friendly approach. There’s no need for cuts, stitches, or scars, and the patient remains conscious during the procedure. As a result, there is little to no downtime. However, this will also depend on the patient’s response to the treatment, as it varies from person to person.
  • It Is Generally Safe: When administered by qualified professionals, the risks of shockwave therapy are minimal. Although there are potential side effects to the procedure, they vary for every patient. Moreover, they are transient and usually dissipate within a day or two. Some of the side effects patients may experience include swelling, redness, or minor pain.
  • It Can Boost the Healing Process: This pain relief procedure aims to promote regeneration and reparative processes in bones, tendons, and other soft tissues. It seeks to alleviate pain and rectify the root cause of discomfort.

Disadvantages of Shockwave Therapy

Here are some of the cons you need to consider before you choose to get shockwave therapy:

  • It Requires a Couple of Appointments: Several sessions might be necessary to reap the full benefits and ensure lasting relief. Typically, patients will require four to six sessions, spaced out once per week, but this also depends on the severity and type of ailment. As such, it can sometimes feel tedious to patients eager for instant relief.
  • It Isn’t for Everyone: Although shockwave therapy benefits many, certain conditions and cases might not be recommended. Patients with certain medical conditions or those on specific medications might need to explore other options. Talk to a physician before getting shockwave therapy to alleviate your body pain so that you can confirm if the procedure is safe for you.

When choosing to get shockwave therapy in Singapore, it’s essential that you get trained professionals to help you administer the procedure. This is not only to ensure your safety but also to fully reap the benefits of the procedure. 

For more information about physiotherapy interventions, check out our guide on the difference between acupuncture and dry needling, as well as insight into physiotherapy for low back pain.

Meet Our Physiotherapist

This article is written by Ng Hong Kai, our Clinic Director and Chief Physiotherapist

hong-kai's profile photo

Clinic Director and Chief Physiotherapist​​

  • Master of Clinical Physiotherapy (Musculoskeletal), Curtin University (Australia)
  • Master of Physiotherapy, University of Sydney (Australia)
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise & Sports Science), University of Sydney (Australia)
  • Member of Australian College of Physiotherapists and Australian Physiotherapy Association
  • Full registration with Allied Health Professions Council, Singapore, and Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
  • GEMt Certified Dry Needling Practitioner

Hong Kai has been practising musculoskeletal physiotherapy for more than a decade. He is the first Singaporean to achieve dual credentials as both an APA Titled Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and a tertiary trained Exercise Scientist.

Hong Kai's broad and extensive skillset allows him to create solutions that are simple, effective and tailored to a client’s musculoskeletal needs. His beliefs in continuing education and self improvement led him to complete his Masters in Clinical Physiotherapy (Musculoskeletal), where he had a chance to participate in formal research into knee osteoarthritis under the supervision of world renowned researcher and physiotherapist Prof Peter 0′ Sullivan. 

Hong Kai has experience treating a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, with a specific focus on addressing lower back, neck, shoulder and knee pain.