Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a clinically-proven and well-researched treatment modality which uses shock waves for musculoskeletal pain management and healing. These waves are directed at specific areas of the body which may be experiencing tightness or pain due to tissue injury and degeneration.
There is very little risk involved with ESWT, no numbing agents nor injections are needed, no lengthy recovery times, and patients can return to walking immediately. Some patients may experience minor discomfort, swelling or bruising for a few days; it is comparable to an intense work out or very deep massage.
For patients seeking to alleviate and resolve pain in their lower limbs, they can expect to experience results (pain reduction or better mobility) after 3 to 6 treatments. Some patients do report immediate pain relief and excellent results after the first session of ESWT, but it may take up to 4 weeks for pain relief to begin. 6 to 9 weeks is usually the time frame when healing from ESWT is proven to be most significant, as shown by medical research.
What to expect?
The podiatrist will assess, diagnose and evaluate if your complaint requires ESWT. If ESWT is indicated, then treatment may commence on the same day or be scheduled for another day. Once begun, commitment to the treatment plan ensures successful outcome.
Patients need to be aware that shockwave may create some swelling, a feeling of fatigue in the treated area, minor bruising or redness, increased pain, or none of the above. The body’s reaction to the treatment is variable by individual. Resting, especially after the first session, is strongly advised.
Treatment with ESWT
A coupling gel will be applied to the area of concern, followed by shock waves delivered via a hand piece. The hand piece will be moved over the treatment area for the duration of the treatment. These shock waves propagate through the tissue and induce a healing effect.
The ESWT machine produces a characteristic sound, and at times the shock wave treatment can be a little uncomfortable for patients, but this discomfort reduces as the shock waves target the injured tissue.
A session of shock wave typically takes 5-20 minutes depending on the condition being treated, and needs to be repeated every 5-9 days for the prescribed number of sessions.
Some common conditions treated by shockwave therapy:
Sprain / Strains
Benefits of Shockwave Therapy
Medically shown to accelerate healing
In the 1980’s, ESWT was originally designed to disintegrate kidney stones using high-intensity shock waves. Since then, ESWT has advanced in leaps and bounds, leading to the development of clinical devices utilizing lower-intensity shock waves for pain management and healing of injury. Among other beneficial effects, the low-intensity shock waves target and stimulate blood vessel formation (medically termed “neovascularization”) in an area of damaged tissue. This is turn metabolizes the tissue, allowing regeneration and healing.
Author: Podiatrist Georgina CALLAGHAN-TAY
Editor: Principal Podiatrist Michael LAI, DPM