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An in depth look of the different types of Shockwave

Shockwave is shockwave… yes you are right to a certain extent.

What is shockwave therapy 4

There is more than one type of Shockwave

There is a range of types of shockwave machines; produced across brands, which impacts how the shockwave is delivered and, ultimately, the outcome of your treatment.

Also, you need to consider how these technologies may impact what you can do in the clinic and the costs of running them – find out more about shockwave running costs here.

But for now, let’s look at the different types of shockwave.

Types of Shockwave

Under the shockwave umbrella, there are two categories;

– Radial Shockwave.
– Focused Shockwave.

And they are very different. The image below shows this for you.

in depth

It is really important you know the difference as it has an effect on;

– What you can treat
– Where you can treat
– How you treat

All affect your patient selection and potential clinical outcome.

Find out more about how shockwave works here.

Radial shockwave delivers the energy at the skin surface. The energy then disperses out, a bit like a shotgun effect – effective at close range, but not very accurate and less effective at distance.

The delivery is good for large shallow problems, but not as effective for deeper, or more precise issues.

How does it produce the energy?

It simply involves sending a bullet up and down a chamber within a handpiece (Therapy source/applicator).

This bullet hits a transmitter placed on the skin sending a pressure wave out into the tissue.

How the bullet is projected varies. You have 2 main methods:

1) Electromagnetic
2) Compressed air

Focused shockwave, delivers the energy differently and is more accurate than radial.

Looking at the image above, notice the ‘tear drop’ shape on the diagram – this is your point of treatment. Between this “focal zone” and the applicator, there is little to no therapeutic effect. The shockwave happens at that focal zone.

To expand on the earlier shotgun analogy focused is like a sniper – powerful, accurate and effective at a distance.

This is because focused shockwave systems can control the depth of treatment from 0cm to 6-10cm (depending on the device). Furthermore, you can control where you aim at that focal zone to make sure you only hit what you want to.

Different types of focused shockwaves are:

1) Electrohydraulic
2) Elelctromagnetc
3) *Piezoelectric
4) Piezoacoustic

in depth

These four can be split into indirect and direct focused shockwaves.

An indirect focused shockwave is where the energy is bounced or manipulated by a mirror or reflective surface to focus the energy.

Direct focused shockwave sends the energy directly in, with no bouncing and manipulation of the energy.

*Piezoelectric is the ONLY direct, focused shockwave available. Meaning it is also the most powerful, accurate and consistent energy delivery giving you more choices and treatment options.

What does this all mean?

It is important to realise focused and radial shockwave are very different and speak to someone who fundamentally knows the differences between the technologies.

Depending on what you see in the clinic can determine whether you get radial or focused shockwave. A budget does have a big play on it as well, and also the ongoing costs.

The main considerations you should look into and ask about are:

  • Durability and efficiency.
    o This links to ongoing costs
  • Energy levels produced and range are available.
    o Effects treatment option
  • Focal zone size.
    o How accurate are you?
  • Relationship between frequency and intensity.
    o Does increasing energy drop the frequency? If so, this can impact the outcome
  • Depth control.
    o Do you need to hit deep structures regularly?

Speak to our specialist to find out which system may suit you.

Or find out more about how shockwave works here. You can also find a range of videos about shockwave at Our Academy.

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