What is a Shockwave?

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Glossary

A shockwave is an acoustic wave that carries energy and propagates through a liquid medium.

What is a shockwave? 

A shockwave is an acoustic wave that carries energy and propagates through a liquid medium; in the case of healing medical shockwaves, the medium is blood, tissue, and/or organs. 

  • In medical treatment, a shockwave stimulates a therapeutic response in the body. 
  • A shockwave can be powered by an electrohydraulic, electromagnetic or piezoelectric source of energy.

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Shockwaves are sound waves that have specific physical characteristics, including nonlinearity, high peak pressure followed by low tensile amplitude, short rise time, and short duration. They have a single pulse, a wide frequency range (1-20 MHz), and a high pressure amplitude (0-120 MPa).

How do shockwaves work?

Mechanical forces, such as cavitation and mechanical stress, result in local trauma and neovascularization. Cavitation can be defined as small gas bubbles that grow, oscillate, and collapse in a fluid while being affected by pressure waves. Only a true shockwave system generates cavitation, penetrating deep into the healing zone, yielding high efficacy and excellent clinical results.

Graphic of how cavitation works: Cavitating bubbles can collapse on a kidney stone, for example, causing stone erosion. 

Other hypothesized mechanisms of shockwave therapy include nerve regeneration and promotion of stem cell mobilization and homing to the treated tissue.

What are the benefits of a Medispec medical shockwave?

  • Non-invasive
  • Non-surgical
  • No pain
  • No down-time
  • Drug-free – no anesthesia required
  • Quick results
  • No known side effects
  • Treats the cause, not the symptoms 
  • No x-ray radiation exposure 
  • Outpatient, ambulatory

Interested in shockwave alternatives to surgery?

Ask a representative.

Classification of Shockwaves

Different types of shockwaves function differently. It’s important to distinguish that radial waves are not considered as shockwaves, and radial waves do not behave the same as shockwaves. A radial wave reaches a significantly lower peak pressure, a slower rise time, and propagates outward without a focal point. 

Medispec Radial Wave (Non-Focused)

The characteristics of Acoustic Radial Wave Therapy (ARWT) are:

  • Penetration up to 20 mm
  • 4MPa peak pressure

ARWT equipment has many advantages: it has a small size, handheld treatment probe, and lower pressure waves than shockwave therapy. ARWT is the perfect tool for physiotherapists for the treatment of most musculoskeletal pain disorders. ARWT is sometimes known as Radial Shockwave Therapy (RSWT). 

How does ARWT work?

ARWT is an ideal treatment for chronic orthopedic conditions. The radial waves are applied to the site of pain. Radial waves act physically on the tissue and induce multiple favorable biological effects:

  • Differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into bone forming cells (Osteoblasts) which leads to bone restoration and fracture healing
  • Fragmentation of calcium deposits into “crumbs,” subsequently absorbed into the tissue
  • Vasodilation, increase in blood flow and oxygen supply to the damaged tissue
  • Attenuate inflammatory response or attenuates inflammation
  • Analgesic effect
  • Tissue healing

Radial Wave Applications

  • Shoulder Tendinosis (with or without calcification)
  • Plantar Fasciitis (with or without Heel Spur)
  • Lower back pain (of muscular origin)
  • Lateral & Medial Epicondylitis
  • Trigger points (“muscle knots”)
  • Trochanteric Bursitis
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • Patellar Tendonitis
  • Shoulder Bursitis
  • Trigger Finger

Top Reasons to Use ARWT:

  • Smooth cellulite: temporarily create the appearance of smooth skin
  • Faster healing: stimulate tissue and bone formation 
  • Faster tattoo removal: Acoustic Radial Wave Therapy (ARWT) assists in the clearance of laser-induced vacuoles, allowing for efficacious multiple laser passes in a single session

Read about ARWT and how it works here

Intensity Levels of Shockwaves

What are the different levels of shockwaves, and how are they used? 

  • Lithotripsy, stone treatments, are considered high intensity at ~900 bars.
  • Orthopedics are considered medium-level intensity at ~500 bars max.
  • Other treatments, such as cardiology, are considered low intensity (Li-ESWT) at 100 bars.

Multi-Wave Shockwave

Multi-Wave describes Medispec’s proprietary shockwaves, uniquely designed to create a deeper, larger healing zone:

  1. Electrohydraulic: a spark plug ignites energy and shoots waves across multiple points of reflection
  2. Electromagnetic: unique optical double lenses structure that emits shockwaves to create a focused zone of healing

Our technologies are the main advantage, cutting-edge elements of Medispec medical device solutions. Designed by a team of talented engineers, every aspect of the Multi-Wave shockwaves are engineered for healing results.

How does Multi-Wave work?

The initial stream of waves ricochet off the sides (of the reflector or plug) with multiple points of reflection and funnel into the zone of healing. Simultaneous, powerful waves are channeled into the therapeutic zone, stimulating angiogenesis and greater blood flow.

What are the benefits of Multi-Wave Shockwave?

  • Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is established as a leading effective treatment in the medical field following numerous clinical studies and various applications. 
  • The chief advantages are its multiple points of reflection, enabling the deepest, largest healing zone which leads to improved, faster cellular regeneration and repair.

Learn more here.

References:

  1. Different types of generating pressure waves and shock waves are produced by the diverse devices for ESWT. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7608508/figure/fig1-2058-5241.5.190067/?report=objectonly
  2. Wess, O.: Physics and technology of shockwave and pressure wave therapy. ISMST Newsletter 2 (1), 2-12, 2006.
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