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Shockwave therapy beats pain, speeds healing

by Paula Detwiller

Like many retired professional athletes, champion LPGA golfer Meg Mallon of Ocean Ridge is no stranger to orthopedic pain.

“A golf swing is an unnatural movement, so you get a lot of wear and tear on your body,” she says.

Mallon, 50, still has numbness in her left leg from 2012, when she completely herniated two lumbar discs during a golf event in Phoenix. She has sporadic soreness in her neck and shoulders, too, which limits movement.

Former LPGA golf champion Meg Mallon is administered shockwave therapy by Dr. Erich Menge at Boca Delray Pain & Rehabilitation. The new therapy helps soft-tissue injuries heal a lot faster. Photo credit: Tim Stepien.

But she has a new ally these days: a type of therapy administered by her chiropractor that delivers low-energy sound waves directly to the source, or trigger point, of her pain. The result is a focused and precise deep-tissue “massage” that removes soreness, increases blood circulation, and restores range of motion.

Mallon’s Delray Beach chiropractor, Dr. Erich Menge, uses an Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) device called the PiezoWave2. The machine—which was invented by the same German company that pioneered the use of acoustic shockwaves to break up kidney stones—creates lower-energy shockwaves that pulse rhythmically through a handheld applicator and into a patient’s body.

The machine makes a metallic click, click, click as the pulses are created. When the shockwaves make contact with the trigger point in the muscle, biochemical changes are thought to occur at the cellular level that can stimulate healing and relieve chronic pain.

A standard course of treatment is 7 to 10 sessions over a period of three weeks.

“We’re treating shoulders, hips, knees, necks, elbows—any kind of musculoskeletal injury,” says Menge, who owns one of only seven PiezoWave devices being used in Palm Beach County today. Patients who have benefitted from his therapy include well-known professional golfers, people with plantar faciitis, carpal tunnel sufferers, and plenty of weekend warriors who just want to keep active.

ESWT therapies have been used successfully in Europe since the 1990s to manage chronic pain. With advances in technology, the method is now believed to be not only rehabilitative, but also regenerative: studies suggest that ESWT can “jump start” the healing process in chronic, non-healing injuries and reintroduce the acute phase of healing.

“A retired gentleman came to me with a swollen Achilles tendon that looked like a pin cushion on the back of his ankle,” Menge says. “He couldn’t walk. His MRI indicates the tendon is frayed. But since he’s been receiving treatment, the swelling is 75 percent gone and he’s walking on the beach again.”

Menge is particularly excited about the PiezoWave’s prospects for treating fibromyalgia, a stubbornly painful autoimmune condition that can flare up and get worse after a regular, hands-on massage.

“I’ve had fibromyalgia patients come through, and this is changing their lives,” he says. “We’re finding that the low-level, focused shockwaves do not trigger the inflammatory reaction that leads to more pain.”

Success rates for treating orthopedic injuries with ESWT range from about 50 to 80 percent. The procedure is covered by some, but not all, insurance plans.

After a recent PiezoWave treatment on her lower neck and upper back muscles, Mallon breathed a (literal) sigh of relief. She could rotate her shoulder again without pain.

“It’s not a medication, which can have so many side effects,” she said. “My feeling is, why not try this first before you throw a bunch of pills in your body?”

Adding dazzle and diversity to downtown Delray

by Paula Detwiller

If you’ve noticed the color and sparkle bursting from the storefront windows at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and southbound Federal Highway in Delray Beach, you may have wondered, “What’s up with all those headless mannequins draped in necklaces?”

The unique display, which changes hues periodically, pulls shoppers into the Sequin jewelry store like a magnet, says store manager Jodi Stein.

Sequin is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers of fashion jewelry. With a showroom in midtown Manhattan and a keen eye on international fashion trends, the company operates shops in Delray Beach, Palm Beach, and Naples, Florida along with Newport, Rhode Island and Southampton, New York.

Merchandise includes necklaces, bracelets, and earrings bearing the Sequin brand, along with a higher-priced line of jewelry created for fashion designer Badgley Mischka.

“We like to call it affordable luxury,” says Stein. “The designs are unique, and it’s not a big investment. Everyone wants a little beachy bling,” she says with a smile.

The store opened in 2012, taking over the space previously occupied by the Ora Sorensen art gallery. This past summer, Sequin temporarily relocated down the street while its landlord renovated the space—adding 200 more square feet and bringing the south façade closer to Atlantic Avenue.

Sequin moved back in in September and re-installed the colorful lineup of seamstress mannequins. Company owner (and display designer) Kim Renk says she is so sure Delray Beach is the place to be, she’s signed a 5-year lease.

That was music to the ears of local economic development officials, who are working to diversify restaurant-heavy Atlantic Avenue.

So even if you’re not crazy about the store’s mint green-and-white-striped awnings or the jewelry sold inside, you can be sure this prominent retailer on this prominent corner is sending the right message: setting up shop in downtown Delray Beach is worth a second look.