The use of shockwave therapy to treat pain is a great alternative to opioids

Posted by Dr Olga Kaltsou

Recently I had a great chance to network with local proactive healthcare providers (medical doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors).  We were there to discuss alternative ways, particularly new technology of lasers and shockwave therapy, to help people alleviate their pain and decrease the use of opioids. Although shockwave therapy is widely used in Europe as a medical device, particularly in Austria and Germany, and in Brazil as an aesthetic device as well, here in the US it is just stepping its way into orthopedic and internal medicine and very slowly into the aesthetics world.  

During the discussion, what shocked me was that even though medical doctors are aware of new technology and supportive research, they still have to prescribe opioids to a lot of their patients. The stumble-stone is insurance coverage and the conservative healthcare system.  Dr. David Cunningham, who was openly sharing his experience with Chattanooga Shockwave/LightForce Laser says: “ It is like nails against the glass when I need to prescribe the opioids to my patients because they need to deal with chronic pain on a daily basis”. Another guest speaker, Matthew P. Whalen, clinical director at TUFTS university, was telling us how he successfully uses shockwave technology to treat his athletes' students and get them back to the field asap without the use of pain medications. 

Several weeks prior to this meeting, I was listening to a Doctor's radio channel on Sirius XM. During the orthopedic show, world-famous orthopedists from Langone Medical Center in NY discussed the successful use of shockwave technology with their patients.  

In their conversation, they discussed the usefulness of shockwaves in dealing with internal hematoma after surgery, or in breaking up the internal scar tissue that forms after surgery. It was agreed by all that shockwave technology is a great tool that can help patients recover much faster and experience much less pain.  

Excitedly, I almost jumped out of my car. There is a state-of-the-art shockwave therapy machine in my clinic Holistic Physical Therapy and Pilates that was manufactured by Chattanooga, the world's largest manufacturer of rehabilitation equipment used for treating musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. All of my patients reported positive effects from shockwave therapy. However, I rarely use it as a separate modality. Shockwave therapy is an integral part of my holistic approach to optimizing my patient's body functionality so they can live active, confident, and pain-free life. When the patient comes in with chronic shoulder pain, a thorough evaluation might reveal tight back muscles, a problem with the left hip joint, or scar tissue from a previous surgery affecting the whole body. I will use shockwave therapy at multiple sites to improve tissue mobility and circulation while decreasing pain, fibrosis, and inflammation. 

It is important for me to see my patients and care for my patient as a whole and not just by parts of their bodies. Because of this, one of the main goals of the holistic approach is to help the patients gain a better understanding of their bodies, their positions, and their movements to improve their quality of life.

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