Can SoftWave Therapy Relieve Osteoarthritis?

By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor

The short answer is, “yes”, but the answer requires a bit more explanation. First of all, “SoftWave Therapy” uses acoustic (sound) shock waves to create a beneficial effect in injured or damaged tissues. This technology was first created in the 1980s in Germany and was used initially for breaking up kidney stones (lithotripsy). It was found in doing this procedure that there were all kinds of other beneficial effects created on the body. To date, there are over 200 published studies on the various uses of this type of therapy, which is more broadly known as “Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy”. The particular device that we use at Chiropractic Health and Wellness is known as “SoftWave TRT”. The “TRT” stands for “Tissue Regeneration Therapy”. As the name implies, this technology is able to help regenerate damaged tissue.


The various effects of softwave therapy include:
1) Pain relief – soft wave therapy causes the body to produce various chemicals that relieve pain.
2) Reduction of inflammation – this therapy also has the ability to modulate the inflammatory response such that often inflammation reduces very rapidly.
3) Increased range of motion – it is often the case that even one treatment will allow a person to move affected joints more easily.
4) Increased blood flow and the sprouting of new blood vessels in injured tissue – one of the most remarkable physiological effects of this therapy is that new blood vessels will grow into injured tissue. This can be very beneficial with such things as wound and fracture healing.
5) Regeneration of injured tissue – soft wave therapy causes injured tissue to send messengers known as “exosomes” to other parts of the body to attract stem cells to the area. In addition, stem cells that are already resident in and around the damaged tissue become activated. Stem cells are the worker bees of the body. They are primitive, baby cells that can grow up to be whatever tissue exists in the body. For example, stem cells can become liver cells, tendon and muscle cells, nerve cells, and just about any other tissue in the body. This regenerative effect of soft wave is where a lot of the magic lives.

So, the question arises as to whether soft wave therapy can relieve osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when there is excess wear and tear on joint surfaces which become worn and inflamed. This type of arthritis is a type of “wear and tear” arthritis as opposed to something like rheumatoid arthritis which is more of an autoimmune disease. With osteoarthritis we have pain, loss of mobility, inflammation, and degeneration of joint surfaces. Soft wave therapy addresses all the various negative effects of osteoarthritis. On more occasions than I can count, we have seen patients with osteoarthritis in a hip, knee, shoulder, foot/ankle, wrist or hand receive a few soft wave treatments and demonstrate increased mobility, decreased pain and long-term improvement in functionality. We fully intend, when we treat someone who has osteoarthritis in a joint, to, at minimum, slow down degeneration and forestall the need for surgery or other invasive interventions. More optimistically, we intend to help regenerate the arthritic tissue.

Some of the beneficial effects of soft wave therapy occur almost immediately, but the full benefit of this therapy is not generally realized for a couple months, and the person has received a number of treatments. The beneficial effects of soft wave are cumulative; this is because there is progressive activation and recruitment of stem cells into the injured tissue.

The bottom line is that if you or someone you know is suffering with osteoarthritis of just about any joint in the body, then soft wave therapy might be an excellent solution. If you have questions about whether you or someone you know might be a candidate for soft wave therapy, then ask one of the doctors at Chiropractic Health and Wellness. We are happy to help. Schedule a consultation with us today.

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