How is Acoustic Compression Therapy different from Extra-corporeal Shock Wave Therapy?

Acoustic Compression and Extra-corporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) are different terms for the same thing! Extra-corporeal Shock Wave Therapy is simply a more technical way of referring to the technology, and is often used in scientific research and papers. We prefer the term Acoustic Compression as we feel it describes the therapy better, stating that we’re using a compressed sound wave rather than an electrical pulse. Also, it’s quite a bit easier to say!

Why haven’t I heard of this before?

It’s too cutting-edge! Though variations of the technology have been used for decades to break up kidney stones here in the United States, using it for other conditions has just barely begun to catch on here. In fact, when we got our first Acoustic Compression machine in 2011, we were only the tenth office in the entire Midwest to be using it! We’ve been hearing about more and more offices beginning to use Acoustic Compression (though often only for a few limited applications), but it’s still fairly uncommon. Even many doctors haven’t heard about it yet!

Is it safe?

Very. No serious side effects have ever been reported from using Acoustic Compression in an area. Acoustic Compression does not interfere with prosthetics, implants, or pacemakers, and does no harm to the tissue it treats. Side effects are rare, and generally minor and transient when they do occur, consisting of mild fatigue or soreness and swelling lasting no longer than a few days after treatment.

Does it hurt?

Most areas will have a slight soreness on key areas, and the technician will control the intensity to keep discomfort to a minimum. Very inflamed areas, and peripheral joints such as knees or knuckles, may be slightly painful as we work on them. Any such soreness stops as soon as we stop the pulses in the area.

How long does a treatment take?

Anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and complexity of the treatment area. 10 minutes of actual pulse application is typical. The duration of the treatment is based on the number of pulses we use in an area, not on the amount of time we spend on it; some issues need more or less pulses or greater or lesser pulses per second, hence the variability.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments needed varies between different conditions and patients. In general, more healthy patients tend to need fewer treatments, as do more recent injuries, while more long-standing or degenerative conditions will take more treatments. As a very general guideline, recent minor sports injuries may take from 1-3 treatments, more chronically sore (but not degenerative) conditions from 6-10, and internal organs and degenerative conditions may take 12 treatments or perhaps more.

How frequently do I have to come in for treatments?

Most typically we find intervals of one treatment a week works best. As treatment progresses, we may be able to increase the interval between cases. Some very recent injuries or acutely painful problems will benefit from up to two treatments per week for a short period.

How long does it take to see results?

Again, this varies greatly on the condition and overall health of the patient. Acute or recent issues may show immediate benefit; however, most conditions take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to begin responding. Often, however, change is very rapid once it begins! Degenerative conditions and internal organs, such as the liver or intestines, often begin to show a dramatic benefit only after three months after beginning treatment – often some time after active treatment has ceased! This is due to the activity of stem cells, which have a very profound regenerative effects, which happens about three months after treatment occurs.

What evidence is there that Acoustic Compression works?

Acoustic Compression therapy is supported by thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles describing its usefulness and safety in addressing a wide array of issues. It is generally referred to as Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy, or ESWT, in such literature(similar, but not identical, to Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy – which is using sound waves to break up kidney stones – so be sure to be specific in your searches!). You can find a quite comprehensive listing of these articles at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=extracorporeal+shock+wave+therapy.

How should I prepare for a treatment?

Acoustic Compression therapy is performed with direct skin contact on the affected area. An ultrasound gel is applied to the area to conduct the sound waves into the body. As such, please be sure to wear clothing that will allow access to the area to be treated (i.e., gym shorts for a thigh or hip problem, a loose waistband for low back issues, a tank top for shoulder problems). Though gel contact with clothing is unusual, and the gel undamaging to fabric, it would be prudent avoid easily-damaged or valuable items of clothing.

Additionally, staying well-hydrated both before and after a treatment, in our experience, seems to enhance treatment effects and minimize fatigue. Endura, an athletic drink sold in our store is especially helpful at maintaining hydration and promoting healing after the treatment.

Can I exercise/use the area right after Acoustic Compression?

Yes, generally using Acoustic Compression does not contraindicate any activity or exercise you’re already used to doing. However, Acoustic Compression often makes an area feel much less painful for a few days following treatment, even when systemic healing is not yet complete. As such, care must be taken not to overstress the area by doing more with it than you did before for those first few days –even if it feels like you can! The few cases we have seen where an area became significantly aggravated after Acoustic Compression were likely due to such overuse.

Other questions?

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