Radial and Focused Shockwave Therapy

Two Type of Shockwave: Radial Shockwave Therapy and Focus Shockwave Therapy

Radial Shockave Therapy:

Radial shockwave therapy is the most common type of treatment found in Canada. Radial shockwave is a type of pressure wave. The sound waves are most intense at the skin level. This causes the sensation to be highest on the skin and superficial layers. 

Benefits of Radial Shockwave Therapy:

Easy to administer
Limited side effects
Releases tension in muscles
Break down inflammation
Activate cellular healing

How does Radial Shockwave Work?

Radial shockwave is a pressure wave. The bullet in a chamber above shoots down a tube to hit the shockwave applicator. This causes an acoustic wave out of the tip of the ‘gun’. The applicator touches the skin and sound passes into the body via ultrasound gel. Most patients describe a snapping sensation on the skin and into the muscle. This snapping is often described like a rubber band being struck on the skin.

Tight muscles are able to release and tension begins to fade. Treatment often targets the muscles for this reason. Even when treating tendons, doctors will apply this technique to the muscle.

Limitations of Radial Shockwave?

More difficulty targeting deep tissue (hip joint)
More painful on bone
Not used or researched for some conditions (ED, vascular conditions)
Requires limited knowledge to use (Overuse)

Focus Shockwave Therapy

Focus shockwave therapy is not as common in Canada. This treatment is an expert modulated therapy that requires extensive knowledge to operate. It involves expertise of anatomy, disease, and biomechanics. Diagnosis is important because more side effects are relevant when used incorrectly. Focus shockwave is often performed by:
Medical doctors, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, and Specialists. 

Focus shockwave therapy can involve 3 different types of machines.
These include:

  • Electrohydraulic
  • Electromagnetic
  • Piezoolectric

    The most effective forms of Focus Shockwave are the Electrohydrialic and ElectroMagnetic devices.

    The most ineffective type of focus shockwave is the piezoelectric devices. Some say that this is because the sound wave is too focussed and small. When the sound wave is too small, it can miss the target! The most advanced specialists in shockwave do NOT use this device. This type is not used in bone conditions and diseases that require high energy. 
Above is a good diagram that shows the different types of focus shockwaves. Although this type of technology is complicated, it is easy to see how focus shockwave differs from the radial shockwave.
Focus shockwaves are pointed and this ‘point’ is where the highest energy explodes. Focus shockwaves will bypass this skin and ‘explode’ at deeper levels.

Benefits of Focus Shockwave?

  • Deep penetration
  • Less painful on bone
  • Treatment requires less shocks then radial shockwave
  • More effective for bone, blood vessel growth

Limitations of Focus Shockwave?

  • Requires expert clinician
  • More potential side effects
  • Can not be used on the thorax (middle back), gut, head
  • Expensive

What do clinics use in Canada?

The majority of clinics in Canada use radial devices. This is because radial shockwave is easier to use and less expensive. Radial shockwaves can be mobile and require less space. Radial shockwave is the’ norm’ in the industry and what most clinicians are primarily aware of. Shockwave came from Europe and many clinics are slow to adapt to combine both focus and radial devices. At our Clinic, we offer both radial and focus shockwave to provide most effective results. More importantly, we combine shockwave with good education, empowerment and rehab loading programs. 

Why should I consider getting both radial and focus shockwave?

It also always best to get assessed to determine which type of treatment you will do best with. Sometimes, your condition will not need shockwave to get better. If appropriate, your therapist will educate what type of therapy is best! Advanced research suggests that combining these treatments could equal better outcomes. Scientists have found that combing shockwave with exercise is very important. Exercise is almost always recommended with shockwave.

How will I feel after the treatment?

Results do vary, but patients who get shockwave often describe immediate relief. The relief from pain will vary between patients. For some patients, relief is immediate. For other patients, the benefits from shockwave take longer to see.

In some instances, full healing can take 3-6 months to occur . This is why you patients go through a healing period. During this period, only physiotherapy will continue. No shockwave will be administered to allow for the treatment to work at the cellular level.

Benefits of Shockwaves? 

  • Remove inflammation

  • Reduce pain by calling down nerves

  • Increase blood flow by removing restrictions

  • Regenerate cells and tissue

  • Stimulate stem cell activity

As always, thanks for reading.