A shock to the system? Exploring shock wave therapy for endometriosis healing
Today we are talking about all things endometriosis and a new, undiscovered, and unexplored therapy that may hold the key to healing for those who suffer from endometriosis.
Endometriosis is something that 10-15% of reproductive-age women, and 70% of women who suffer from chronic pelvic pain, are diagnosed with. Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium (the inner uterine lining) starts to grow outside of the uterus (where it is not supposed to grow) and grows onto, and attaches to, other pelvic organs.
When growing outside of the uterus (where it is meant to grow), the tissue can harden, thicken and bleed, and the predominant signs of endometriosis are this bleeding, pain during intercourse, bladder and rectal pain, and also reduced fertility rates, as well as ongoing and unexplained pain, lasting for a long time.
Surgery to remove the lesions is often complicated, ineffective, and intrusive, and traditional medical approach attempts to help endometriosis sufferers live with the condition by prescribing medication, oestroprogestative or progestin pills, or other pain medication, are often unsatisfactory, having little impact on the levels of pain the patient is suffering with.
I was diagnosed with stage IV endometriosis when I was 23 years old after a botched laparotomy surgery. 11 years later I was also diagnosed with adenomyosis and found myself in the most excruciating pain - even being advised by most doctors to get a hysterectomy.
After several surgeries, none of which even the best surgeons were able to give relief past a 24 months, my pain continued to worsen - not just experiencing pain from the surgery and pain from the lesions but also debilitating pain in my lower back, ovaries, uterus, hips, buttocks, and legs. Endometriosis was taking over my life and has been a huge part of my drive towards a clean, non-toxic life that gives my body the best chance at healing.
Whether my experience is with cupping, meditation, diet, emotional healing or exploring combinations of supplements such as NAC, NMN or NAD IV therapy or systemic enzymes, whenever I find any advancements in the field of endometriosis, I know I have to share it with you. Many of you know I live between Miami, LA and Paris, so a good friend of mine in Paris recommended I see a doctor for shockwave therapy. I am a guinea pig and will try anything! This is the link if you happen to be in Paris-
Dr Edgard Cornier
Today, we are discussing the power that shock wave therapy holds for those who are suffering.
What is a shock wave?
Ok, a shock wave is a type of energetic wave that is created by a sudden change in pressure. This change in pressure creates a wave of energy and energetic charge that can move through stretchy and elastic mediums like the bones or soft tissues of the human body.
It sounds a lot, but shock therapy is basically high-intensity shockwaves that are directed at specific areas of the pelvis to deliver a disruptive or regenerative effect.
What does the shock wave do?
There are low-intensity impacts of the waves and higher intensity waves whose more disruptive effects are used in treatments such as lithotripsy to break down kidney stones.
The focused shock wave therapy delivers the higher intensity energy, and penetrates deeper into the tissues (which is thought to have a more destructive impact on the lesions and adhesions), whereas the radial shock wave therapy is less penetrative, may be less painful, and can reach wider areas with more of a regenerative effect on the tissue.
The benefits of shock wave therapy - and how could they help endo sufferers?
- Anti-inflammatory benefits
Anti-inflammatory is a big one, particularly when it is understood that endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition (this is one of the main reasons that Jena follows an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and diet wherever she can to reduce the impact of her endo).
What we mean by endometriosis being viewed as a chronic inflammatory condition is that endometriosis is thought to more frequently impact women with an impaired immunological response. This induces a chronic inflammatory state which can then lead to the development of adhesions, lesions, and fibrosis.
Are shock waves anti-inflammatory then?
It is thought that the shock waves can induce nitric oxide synthesis. What this means in practice is that the creation of nitric oxide can modulate and manage the inflammatory process because it down-regulates (think, switches off) the activation of things such as neutrophils, macrophages, mast cells, etc. that all play a part in causing your body to move into an inflammatory response.
This anti-inflammatory treatment already has a background in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as injuries (tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, etc.), wound healing (particularly diabetic wounds that struggle to heal), as well as more general treatment of pelvic pain. It is certainly thought that this shockwave therapy can have major benefits for the inflammatory nature of endometriosis.
- The Antioxidant Effect
Back to nitric oxide and its power in the battle against endo. Nitric oxide is a free radical scavenger (a substance that protects the body’s cells from the damage that is caused by free radicals in the body - such as air pollution, UV radiation, smoking, alcohol, pesticides, poor nutrition, poor soil quality, etc.). This damage is known as oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is part of the environment that is thought to cause the onset and development of endometriosis. Shock waves inducing nitric oxide synthesis means that the shockwaves may also be delivering a reduction in oxidative stress and the damage of free radicals on the body.
- Pain Management for sufferers
It is thought that, with chronic pain disorders, the person’s pain threshold can become progressively lowered over time which means that smaller stimuli can activate the same responses as larger stimuli would. These are then processed and amplified by the nervous system of the body so that the individual can feel larger pain responses than someone else might.
Another huge potential benefit of this shock wave therapy is that it is thought that shock wave induced cavitation can disrupt the neural pathways that have become fixed at perceiving pain, in term reducing the severity of stimuli to the pain signals and reducing the amplification of the pain throughout the central nervous system.
What this means in practice is that the shockwaves will target myofascial trigger points in the pelvic area in the hope that the ‘nociceptive feedback loop’ which has become over sensitized could be interrupted from firing in the way it has gotten used to.
So far, good outcomes have been achieved in using this shock wave therapy to treat chronic pelvic pain syndrome and chronic prostatitis [in males] so it is a technology and therapy that holds potential, progress, and hope for many who live in pain - however - this is not a one-time miracle fix.
It is thought that you need a minimum of 6 consistent shock wave therapy sessions to start to see benefits from the treatment - and this could be different for every patient, depending on the severity and nuances of their condition.
Shock wave therapy is currently considered to be a ‘novel’ approach to treating endometriosis and similar conditions but is starting to be offered at clinics around the world.
With how invasive and ineffective traditional surgery is, it is critical that medical advancements, both in the traditional and holistic worlds, start to move towards less invasive treatments that can be alternatives to surgery for those suffering from endometriosis and adenomyosis. We think we will be seeing a lot more of shock wave therapy in the coming years.
So, whether it is you that suffers, or someone close to you - maybe, just maybe - shock wave therapy may be the future for treating endometriosis. You heard it here first.
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.