Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Can Shockwave Therapy Help in Treating Non-Healing Bone Fractures?

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Shockwave therapy has emerged as a cutting-edge treatment option for accelerating the healing of bone fractures. Leveraging high-energy sound waves, this non-invasive procedure stimulates bone regeneration and repair. Particularly beneficial for fractures that are slow to heal or have complications, shockwave therapy is gaining popularity in both clinical settings and among patients seeking alternative healing methods. Shockwave therapy Edmonton enhances blood circulation, promotes angiogenesis (to develop new blood vessels), and stimulates cellular activity at the fracture site. 

What is a Non-Healing Bone Fracture?

A non-healing bone fracture or non-union fracture happens when a broken bone does not successfully heal within the expected time frame, often due to poor blood supply, infection, inadequate immobilization, smoking, or underlying health conditions like diabetes or osteoporosis. 

Symptoms include persistent pain, swelling, tenderness, and instability at the fracture site, which can significantly impact a person’s life by causing chronic discomfort, minimized mobility, difficulty performing daily activities or work and potential long-term disability.

Can Shockwave Therapy Promote Healing in Non-Healing Bone Fractures?

Yes, shockwave therapy can potentially help in treating non-healing bone fractures. Shockwave therapy, also called (ESWT) Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy, entails the use of acoustic waves to stimulate healing in tissues. Here’s how it can be beneficial for non-healing bone fractures:

Mechanism of Action

Shockwave therapy in Edmonton aids in the healing of non-healing bone fractures through several mechanisms:

Stimulation of Bone Growth

Shockwaves induce microtrauma in the bone tissue, which triggers a biological healing response. This microtrauma stimulates the production of growth factors like bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). These growth factors are essential for bone regeneration as they promote the formation of new blood vessels and the proliferation of osteoblasts, the cells responsible for new bone formation.

Improved Blood Flow

The application of shockwaves enhances blood circulation to the affected area. Increased blood flow is critical for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the fracture site, which are necessary for cellular metabolism and tissue repair. Enhanced vascularization also aids in the removal of waste products and inflammatory mediators from the fracture site, creating a more conducive environment for healing.

Activation of Osteoblasts

ESWT Shockwave therapy activates osteoblasts, which are the cells that synthesize new bone matrices. This activation leads to increased production of bone matrix proteins, such as collagen, and subsequent mineralization, resulting in stronger and more resilient bone tissue. Osteoblast activation is pivotal in bridging the gap at the fracture site and restoring bone integrity.

Reduction of Inflammation

Shockwave therapy has anti-inflammatory effects, which help reduce pain and swelling around the fracture site. By decreasing inflammation, the therapy mitigates one of the major impediments to bone healing. Reduced inflammation also leads to decreased pain, improving patient comfort and enabling better participation in rehabilitation activities.


Shockwave therapy for non-healing bone fractures is typically performed in an outpatient setting and entails the following steps:

Assessment and Planning

The healthcare provider conducts a thorough evaluation of the patient’s condition, including medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies such as X-rays or MRI scans. This assessment helps determine the precise area to be treated and the severity of the fracture, guiding the customization of the therapy protocol.

Application of Shockwaves

A handheld device is used to deliver shockwaves to the targeted area. The device generates shockwaves that penetrate the skin and reach the underlying bone tissue. The intensity and frequency of the shockwaves are carefully adjusted based on the fracture’s characteristics and the patient’s tolerance. The shockwaves are typically applied in a series of pulses, with each session focusing on the specific area of the non-union fracture.


Each shockwave therapy session lasts about 15-20 minutes. The number of sessions required varies depending on the severity of the fracture and the patient’s response to treatment. Typically, multiple sessions are required, with shockwave treatments scheduled one to two weeks between each session to allow the body sufficient time to respond and initiate the healing process.

Benefits of Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy offers several benefits in the treatment of non-healing bone fractures:


It is a treatment option that avoids the need for surgery and is non-invasive. This significantly minimizes the risk of complications such as infections, scarring, and prolonged recovery periods associated with surgical interventions.

Minimal Downtime

Patients can typically return back to normal activities shortly after the procedure, with minimal downtime associated with shockwave therapy. This aspect helps individuals who want to uphold their daily routines and duties while undergoing treatment.

Pain Relief

Many patients report reduced pain after just a few sessions of shockwave therapy. The analgesic effects are attributed to the therapy’s ability to reduce inflammation and modulate pain pathways, enhancing overall comfort and quality of life.

Accelerated Healing

By promoting bone growth, improving blood flow, activating osteoblasts, and reducing inflammation, shockwave therapy can significantly speed up the healing process of non-union fractures. This accelerated healing is crucial for preventing long-term complications and restoring full functionality to the affected limb or area.

Effective Healing with Shockwave Therapy:

Shockwave therapy in Edmonton represents a promising frontier in the treatment of non-healing fractures. By leveraging acoustic waves to enhance blood circulation, stimulate bone healing, and alleviate pain, this non-invasive approach offers significant potential for patients facing challenges with traditional healing methods. Family physiotherapy provides shockwave therapy treatment to activate mesenchymal stem cells and promote growth factors directly at the fracture site, which underscores its role in accelerating natural healing processes. As research continues to refine techniques and outcomes, shockwave therapy stands poised to provide effective relief and improved functional outcomes, offering hope for patients seeking alternatives to surgery or struggling with persistent fracture healing issues.

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