Extracorporeal ShockWave TherapY



Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy For Musculoskeletal Conditions

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a non-surgical treatment that is best known for its usefulness in breaking kidney stones into small pieces so they can travel out of the body easily. However, ESWT is also increasingly being used to deliver shock waves to musculoskeletal areas such as the shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee, and foot with the goal of reducing pain and inflammation and promoting healing. Continue reading to find out how extracorporeal shock wave therapy works and why it could be a good treatment choice for you.

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How Does ESWT Work?

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy uses high-energy acoustic waves (shock waves) to generate pressure. The pressure exerts a mechanical force on the affected area and induces repair and regeneration of damaged or injured tissues. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is a non-invasive alternative to surgical treatment in select patients with musculoskeletal disorders who have failed to respond to conventional therapies, such as pain medications and/or steroid injections.

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What Happens During ESWT Treatment?
Is It Painful?

The treatment itself is pretty straightforward. A gel is applied to the skin and a non-invasive probe is placed over the area of concern. Shockwaves are then focused on the area. The energy of the shockwaves can be adjusted. Low-energy ESWT can usually be performed without anesthesia. If high-energy shock waves are used, there can be some pain, and it may be necessary to perform the treatment with local or regional anesthesia.

The shockwaves are believed to break up scar tissue, improve blood flow, inhibit pain receptors, and encourage the soft tissues to heal themselves. The therapy is more effective when patients actively participate in the session by telling the provider when the probe is in the area of pain.

Each ESWT treatment usually lasts 45-60 minutes. Some patients benefit from a single ESWT session while others need multiple sessions to get pain relief. The treatments are typically scheduled as a weekly session for 4-6 weeks.

Following extracorporeal shock wave therapy, patients are advised to limit physical activity for 1-2 weeks. However, it is usually possible to bear weight on the treated body part after ESWT.

What Conditions Can Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Treat?

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Some of the conditions that can benefit from ESWT include:

Rotator cuff tendinosis with or without calcification: This is an overuse injury of the rotator cuff (shoulder) muscles and tendons. It is also called tennis shoulder, swimmer’s shoulder, or pitcher’s shoulder. High-energy shockwaves focused on calcified deposits in the shoulder can be an effective treatment for this condition.

Tennis elbow: This is a repetitive motion injury in which the muscles and tendons of the forearm are damaged due to overuse, leading to pain on the outer side of the elbow. ESWT can help reduce pain and improve function and grip strength in such patients.

Golfer’s elbow: This is a similar condition to tennis elbow but the pain is located on the bony bump on the inside of the elbow. Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are not limited to people who play these sports. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy can benefit people with these conditions by reducing pain and disability and improving function.

Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is a condition in which there is numbness, tingling, and weakness of the hand due to compression of a nerve as it passes through a narrow tunnel in the wrist. ESWT can help reduce symptoms and improve function in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Trochanteric bursitis: This is an inflammation of the trochanteric bursa (a small fluid-filled sac near the hip joint), which causes hip pain that is often worse with activities or when lying on the affected side. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy can relieve pain and inflammation in the hip in patients with this condition.

Patellar tendinitis / Runner’s knee / Jumper’s knee: This is a condition in which the patellar tendon is inflamed (this tendon connects the kneecap to the shinbone). ESWT may be used in conjunction with conservative treatments (training exercises) in patients with runner’s knee.

Achilles’ tendinosis / tendinitis: This is a condition in which the Achilles tendon (the cord like structure that can be felt at the back of the heel) degenerates or becomes inflamed, causing heel pain and swelling. ESWT can be used along with supervised exercises to improve the effectiveness of treatment.

Plantar fasciitis: This is a common cause of heel pain that occurs due to inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toes at the bottom of the foot. ESWT can benefit patients with plantar fasciitis by stimulating healing of soft tissues and inhibiting pain receptors in the foot.

Is Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Safe?

ESWT is a non-invasive treatment, and therefore, the risk of complications is very low. The most common side effects are pain and hypersensitivity at the treatment site. However, these symptoms are usually self-limited and resolve over time. If ESWT is not successful, then the original pain in the area may persist.

Am I A Candidate For ESWT?

If you suffer from painful and disabling musculoskeletal conditions, extracorporeal shock wave therapy may be able to help you get back to a pain-free, active lifestyle without surgery. The treatment can also help you reduce use of pain medications and/or steroid injections (the results can vary from person to person).

Want to find out if extracorporeal shock wave therapy ESWT is right for you? We offer Free Consultations to learn more about your condition and medical history and to determine if ESWT is right for you. Just give us a call or fill out the form below to have your skin evaluated by our professionals!

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