If there’s one thing that’s true in the field of health and wellbeing, it’s that people love statistics – and it’ll come as no surprise to learn that we’re not short of them in the world of physiotherapy.
The first one is that nearly 30 million of us here in the UK live with some degree of chronic pain. Chronic is a word that’s misused a lot. Over the years it’s become a euphemism for severity of pain. So, we might say I’ve got chronic pain in my shoulder when what we really mean is that our shoulder is really painful.
But chronic actually means ongoing for a long time or recurring. Just imagine that for a moment. More than half the adults in the country are suffering pain that either won’t go away or keeps coming back.
But of those 30 million people, 8 million – 1 in 6 adults – are living with severe chronic pain. But even mild or manageable pain can become intolerable. We’ve probably all suffered from a mild headache or backache and often some ibuprofen or paracetamol can get rid of it.
So imagine what it would be like to live with even that low-level pain on a near-permanent basis. It’s soul-destroying, more so when your GP or consultant runs out of ideas on the best way to treat it and, as health professionals sometimes do, decides the only option is either to offer a surgical solution or to simply manage the pain.
Surgical intervention risks causing further degeneration, which may have the effect of making the pain worse rather than better. That’s why we believe surgery should always be the last resort unless there’s a compelling medical reason to take that route earlier.
An exciting new approach to curative treatment is a non-surgical therapy known as Shockwave, which uses acoustic waves to send focused and directed energy to painful areas of tendons, other soft tissues and bone to promote regeneration.
Treating pain isn’t always easy and finding a solution can sometimes come down to a process of trial and error, trying different approaches until you find one that works.
It’s a perfectly valid strategy for identifying an effective treatment but when the condition fails to respond to everything – and occasionally that’s the reality – then Shockwave Therapy is a good option to consider before going under the knife in search of a cure.
Awareness of Shockwave Therapy is still growing but there’s enough evidence now to suggest it can be highly effective in treating soft-tissue and musculoskeletal conditions, as well as in spinal injuries and vascular and neurological conditions.
It’s unlikely your GP will refer you for this therapy in the first six months of treatment since NHS guidelines currently encourage medical professionals to try more well-established interventions and treatments first.
But private therapy is available at West 1 Physio if your preference is to consider it earlier in the diagnostic process.
It can be effective in the treatment of:
It’s also been shown to have benefit in helping people to recover from joint replacement surgery, preventing further remedial surgery where an initial operation has failed to resolve the issue and, because it has been shown to aid the natural healing process, Shockwave Therapy can also assist in post-operative healing.