Shockwave therapy or extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is an innovative, cost-effective, evidenced-based treatment for tendon pain and other conditions throughout the body.
The main benefits of shockwave are pain relief and restoration of function. It is a safe, non-invasive treatment with convincing evidence for its effectiveness from a large body of research and clinical trials. There are now multiple, randomised, double blinded clinical trials that support the use of shockwave therapy for planter fasciitis, lateral epicondylitis, and calcific tendinitis of the shoulder.
Shockwave therapy has been around since the 1970s with the first use being to treat kidney stones.
We use a specialist device to deliver sound energy through the skin to the injured part of the body. The shockwaves are mechanical and not electric. They are audible, low energy sound waves which increase the blood flow to the injured area.
Shockwave therapy has two main modes of action which will help with persistent tendon pain. First the shockwaves work to desensitise nerve endings which will often give an immediate reduction in pain. Secondly, and often most importantly, the shockwaves cause controlled micro trauma (microscopic damage) to the tissue which encourages the body to respond by increasing the blood circulation and metabolism in the affected area. This will activate and accelerate the bodies own healing response. The shockwaves can also ‘breakdown’ disorganised tissue and calcifications.
The required number of sessions varies depending on the diagnosis and duration of symptoms. A minimum of three treatment sessions over three consecutive weeks are needed but usually 6 to 8 sessions are needed. Shockwave is applied using a handheld device which is applied to the skin above the injured area. Gel is used to increase the transmission of sound waves from the device to the injured tissue. The actual shockwave treatment lasts 5 to 10 minutes and during that session 2500–3000 shocks will be administered to the tissue. The entire treatment session will be up to 30 minutes long as we will also prescribe and teach rehabilitation exercises to ensure optimal recovery and perform any other treatment we feel will benefit. We strongly believe the key to a successful outcome is a combination of shockwave therapy and rehabilitation exercises.