Chronic back pain, defined as pain lasting 12 weeks or more, has many causes. It can be debilitating, no matter the cause, so you want and need relief. But what can you try if conservative treatments don’t work?

At Viva Health, board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Aleksander J. Bodnar offers his patients a novel treatment that can help chronic back pain as well as sexual dysfunction — acoustic wave therapy, aka extracorporeal shock wave therapy.

What causes chronic back pain?

There are too many potential causes to get into them all here, but many common causes can be grouped together.


  • Sprains (overstretched or torn ligaments)
  • Strains (tears in tendons or muscle)
  • Spasms (sudden contraction of muscle or muscle group)
  • Traumatic injury to soft tissues or spinal vertebrae

Degenerative problems

  • Degenerative disc disease: cushioning discs wear out with age
  • Spondylosis: general degeneration of the spine from wear-and-tear over time
  • Arthritis or another inflammatory disease in spinal joints
  • Spondylitis: inflammation of the vertebrae

Nerve and spinal cord problems

  • Spinal nerve compression, inflammation, and/or injury
  • Sciatica (or radiculopathy) caused by sciatic nerve root compression
  • Spinal stenosis: narrowing of the spinal column that compresses spinal nerves
  • Herniated or ruptured discs
  • Osteoporosis: loss of bone density leading to painful compression fractures

It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis before starting treatment, as different causes require different interventions.

What is acoustic wave therapy?

Acoustic wave therapy treats soft tissue problems and is highly effective for myofascial pain syndrome. This noninvasive, FDA-approved, office-based procedure targets a broad range of musculoskeletal conditions, increasing blood flow and encouraging tissue repair.

This technology uses high-frequency sound waves to initiate the body’s own repair function in cases of chronic, degenerative conditions and chronic inflammation of lower back structures. It works through six mechanisms:

1. Forms new blood vessels

Oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood flow is required to start and maintain the repair processes of damaged tissue. Applying acoustic waves leads to new blood vessel formation in the damaged area.

2. Reverses chronic inflammation

Mast cells are a key component of the inflammatory process, and acoustic waves increase their activity.

However, their activation is followed by the production of chemokines and cytokines, pro-inflammatory compounds that first enhance inflammation and then help restore normal healing and regenerative processes.

3. Stimulates collagen production

Collagen is a key structural protein, and a sufficient amount is necessary to repair damaged myoskeletal and ligament structures. Shock wave therapy accelerates procollagen synthesis.

4. Breaks up calcified fibroblasts

Calcium buildup often occurs with micro-tears or other trauma to a tendon. Acoustic waves break up the calcifications, allowing the soft tissue to heal.

5. Disperses pain mediator ‘substance P’

Substance P is a neuropeptide and neurotransmitter that controls pain information through the C-fibers. It’s generally associated with intense, persistent, and chronic pain. Acoustic waves disperse the peptide, decreasing pain.

6. Releases trigger points

Trigger points are a major cause of pain in the back, neck, shoulder, and limbs; when touched, they radiate pain into the body. Acoustic energy unblocks the calcium pump controlling the trigger points and desensitizes them.

If you’re interested in finding out if acoustic wave therapy can ease your chronic back pain, visit Viva Health for a consultation with Dr. Bodnar. Give us a call at either of our locations, in Clark and Clifton, New Jersey, or book your appointment online.

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