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Sonographic technology initially pioneered in the late 1970s, and used since 1980 to smash-up painful or difficult kidney and gall stones, is now helping a growing number of patients of Newtown chiropractor John Popowich enjoy greatly reduced or pain-free lifestyles.
Dr Popowich recently acquired a patented and FDA-approved portable device he can use to apply powerful, concentrated sound waves to break up and eliminate painful calcification in other soft tissues.
While he is applying the technology — technically defined as “electrocorporeal shock therapy” — primarily for his patients suffering with planter fasciitis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, and shin splints, Dr Popowich produced documentation that shows the therapy is also being used or tested addressing conditions from carpal tunnel syndrome and Achilles tendenopathy to easing facial spasticity in stroke patients and helping those suffering from erectile dysfunction.
“Most patients are looking to relieve shoulder pain or ‘frozen shoulder,’ planter fasciitis, and knee pain,” he said. “It’s pretty much about breaking up the adhesions, scar tissue, and calcification in soft tissues near the surface.”
Besides showing either immediate or eventual positive results among the number of initial patients Dr Popowich is treating, he said the next best thing is that electrocorporeal shock therapy is pain-free, and can often relieve pain in individuals who had previously undergone operations, and who may have previously used pain medication to find relief.
“First, I’ve tested it on myself, so I can assure it is painless,” Dr. Popowich said. “And my patients so far have described it as pressure over the damaged tissue. So the procedure is both diagnostic as well as therapeutic for scar tissue. So when it locates the scar tissue, the pressure or a dull ache may emanate from that area when the sound wave is applied — it’s pretty localized.”
Since the application of this sonographic technology is still rather new to the market, Dr Popowich is still relying on his own experience and patient feedback to gauge how often to perform sound wave sessions, and to determine how measured the applications need to be.
“I have a husband and wife where the husband had a chronic frozen shoulder who needed five to six visits. But his wife was also getting it, but after working with her over only a couple of visits, she was fine,” he said.
John, another patient who asked to not use his last name, said his chronic shin splints were so bad, he could only exercise, walk, or run for about 15 minutes before his leg pain became too disabling to continue.
“Between high school and college, I played a lot of football and basketball, and did a lot of weight lifting — all things that beat up your legs pretty bad,” John said. “But I’ve also been a runner for over 30 years.”
In his case, about a half-dozen electrocorporeal shock therapy treatments have given John about an hour’s relief after each session. But he is confident that as he continues his regiment, about six visits each month, he will begin to see greater results.
Another patient, tennis coach Mike Slattery, told The Bee that he had suffered from chronic back pain for more than 30 years, but he only came to Dr Popowich after discussing his chronic pain while coaching the doctor’s child.
“So he was working on me, and after one treatment I felt so much looser,” Mr Slattery said. “By the second treatment, I had almost no pain. By the third treatment, he couldn’t even find any scar tissue and I’ve been pain-free ever since. My daily pain has decreased from an eight to ten range, down to one or two.”
Now he’s sending a number of his tennis students to Popowich Chiropractic when they complain of any related pain after Mr Slattery’s lessons. He was even able to refer a 27-year-old relative who is active duty military to a colleague of Dr Popowich’s in another part of the country who uses the same machine, to treat the soldier’s chronic knee pain.
“After three sessions, we visited during Thanksgiving and went for a run, and there is no more pain,” Mr Slattery said.
“The sooner you can get on top of the condition once people start feeling tightness or pain in the muscles, the faster the therapy tends to work,” Dr Popowich said. “In most subjects, research is showing after two years post therapy, they remain asymptomatic [pain free].”
According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS), complications are infrequent with shock wave therapy; however, people who have poor sensation (neuropathy) or hypersensitivity in the target area should not have this procedure. The main complications can be pain and hypersensitivity at the site of treatment.
Open sores should be avoided; shock wave therapy is not used in patients with heart conditions, seizures, or during pregnancy; and utilizing the therapy should be discussed with a physician before undergoing the procedure.
Therapy is more successful with active patient participation where the patient tells the therapist whether or not the probe is at the area of pain, the AOFAS says. And the noninvasive treatment that can help avoid surgery.
One of the other patient groups Dr Popowich is looking forward to treating is teenage athletes, especially those suffering from knee pain from sports or repetitive motion pain.
“Our therapies are always the same, patient-centered,” he said. “Our therapies are based on the patient goals. We learn their goals and we treat them to meet their expected outcomes.”
To learn more, contact Dr Popowich at Popowich Chiropractic, 71 South Main Street, by calling 203-300-4922 or visit mynewtowndoctor.com.