Shock waves have been used as therapy from the early 1980s. What began as a treatment for kidney stones is applied in many other fields today. For example, it is applied in aesthetic medicine to cure muscular injuries as well as for the treatment of sexual disorders, such as erectile dysfunction or Peyronie’s disease. Each of these disorders is treated with different types of shock waves, and we will talk about these below.
What different types of shock waves are there?
What began as a revolution in our country is today a very well-known and indisputably effective treatment. With the passing of time, it has had a period of specialisation within its different applications. Today, there are two distinguishable types of shock waves.
The two different types of shock waves that exist are “focus” and “radial”. Each one is used for specific treatments as, because of their characteristics, one is more effective than the other in different complaints. In the following paragraphs, we explain what focus shock waves and radial shock waves are.
- Focus shock waves. Focus shock waves spread in a linear manner, that is to say, they have a focussed area of action. They are produced by electromagnetic induction. This type of energy creates an electric force which, in turn, generates waves. The waves are dispersed under pressure until they penetrate deeply into the tissue to produce effects at a cellular level, or even the breakdown of some types of stones.
There are two ways of obtaining these: through an electrohydraulic mechanism or by piezoelectricity. In both cases, electricity forms part of the process. In the first mechanism, the electricity acts on the contained aqueous mass. In the second mechanism, it acts on glass which, in turn, generates the energetic displacement of a metal membrane.
It is possible that during their application some discomfort will be perceived, although this diminishes as the treatment progresses. The treatment is not incapacitating, so the patient does not require long periods of rest or exercises for recovery after its application. The discomfort can be lesser or greater depending on the intensity that is used, which tends to vary around 100 and 1.000 bars. Recovery is very fast and any discomfort disappears quickly. Patients can carry on with their normal lives after the treatment sessions.
- Radial shock waves. The discovery of radial shock waves is more recent than the focus waves. They appeared in 1999 along with Electro Medical Systems EMS and there are notable differences between these and focus waves.
One of the differences is how the waves are produced. In this case, pneumatic means, such as compressed air, is used. In the case of focus waves, these are obtained through electricity. Furthermore, radial waves are not used to attack a specific point, but are more commonly used to cover larger areas.
Less force is used in radial shock waves, as these seek to reactivate the creation of tissue and improve blood circulation. Vascular regeneration is one of the most successful functions of this type of shock wave.
The force used does not exceed 10 bars, so its application is not at all invasive. The application is barely perceptible and no discomfort is produced. Furthermore, after application there is no restriction, so the patient can continue with their normal life when they leave the consultation.