A tendon joins a muscle to a bone. When it is strained for more than about 4 weeks changes start to happen within the tendon that make it less likely it will heal. If there is a few months of the tendon being strained it is most likely it will not heal to its pre-injury capabilities without treatment.
To understand how this happens, think of a tendon as a matrix of connective tissue which is built and maintained by tendon cells (tenocytes). After a few weeks of a strain the tendon cells start to release a chemical which unfortunately degrades the matrix of the tendon. Also at this time there are less tendon cells produced. This leaves the tendon under attack from the cells which are supposed to build and maintain it.
Using Shock Wave Therapy on a tendon stops the tendon cells releasing chemicals which degrade the tendon, and increases the production of tendon cells. This allows for repair and maintenance of the matrix.
Research has asserted that the use of Shock Wave Therapy increases the likelihood of complete repair or much improved repair of an achilles tendon from 56% to 82% when comparing treatment consisting of physiotherapy alone to physiotherapy and shock wave therapy. *
Shock Wave Therapy is widely used at our clinics and we are finding that it is a necessary adjunct to conventional physiotherapy as the research suggests.
Some conditions it is useful for include plantar fasciitis and tendon strains of the elbow (tennis elbow), patella (knee), achilles (heel), shoulder and hip (trochanteric bursitis).
*Rompe J.D. et al 2009 Eccentric loading versus eccentric loading plus shock-wave treatment for midportion Achilles tendinopathy. American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine. Vol 37 No 3