Shock Wave Therapy

What is Shock Wave Therapy, and how does it work?

Shock Wave Therapy, also known as Extra Corporeal ShockWave Therapy (ECSWT) is an evidence-based treatment modality, providing a treatment option to patients suffering from a range of chronic conditions such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy that are notoriously difficult to resolve.

Shock wave treatment was originally developed to treat kidney and gall stones as an alternative to Lithotripsy treatment. Some patients who had their kidney stones successfully treated also reported improvement in chronic musculoskeletal conditions in regions which were in the pathway of the shockwave treatment.

The basic principles behind shock wave therapy are the high-pressured acoustic shock waves that travel through the skin to breakdown calcified tissue and stimulate tissue repair.

Shockwave therapy uses sound waves to stimulate the body’s immune system and regenerative mechanism in healing damaged tissues. Re-vascularisation occurs in the target tissues/areas, producing new blood vessels encouraging healing and removal of waste products. ECSWT also reduces pain by hyperstimulation anesthesia that diminishes nerve pain signals relayed to the brain.  The end result is that healing of damaged tissues is dramatically sped up.

What conditions does Shock Wave Therapy treat?

Shockwave Therapy has attracted several clinical research trials which have supported its use in the treatment of patients with the following conditions:

  • Plantar Fasciitis/Heel spur (calcaneal spur)
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Patella tendinopathy
  • Other forms of insertional tendinopathy

Other musculoskeletal problems such as:

  • Muscle strains
  • Haematomas (deep bruises in the muscle)
  • Shin splints
  • Osteitis pubis

Impressive results have been reported in cases that have been hard to manage and failed to respond to conventional treatment regimes and approaches. What sets this treatment apart from traditional treatments is that it treats the musculoskeletal pathology instead of just offering symptomatic relief. It is also the best last resort prior to surgery.

What does the treatment involve?

The team at PodiatryFirst are leaders in the use of shockwave therapy utilising the latest techniques and technology.

  • Generally, the affected area is painful to touch, your podiatrist can locate the tendon or joint requiring treatment
  • Shock waves are delivered through a specialized handpiece device held lightly on the skin with gel contact. The treatment usually lasts for around 15-30 minutes and only causes minor discomfort.
  • The procedure is safe and for optimum results therapy usually consists of 1-2 xweekly treatments for 6-8 weeks.
  • Following treatment, natural healing of the body will continue for several months, and most patients experience of major symptoms immediately after the therapy
  • There are no side effects and patients can leave straight after the session has completed.

Our approach at PodiatryFirst is to provide shockwave therapy as an adjunct therapy with other treatments and implement a progressively graduated exercise program to allow your injury to regain full functional recovery as quickly as possible.

What is the evidence?

There are a number of trials, including Randomized Controlled Trials, that support the use of Shock Wave Therapy:

Rompe et al 2008Eccentric Loading Compared with Shock Wave treatment for Chronic Insertional Achilles Tendinopathy, J Bone Joint Surg Am 2008; 90: 52-61

Han et al 2009Effect of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy on Cultured Tenocytes, Foot and Ankle International, 30: 93-98

Furia et al 2007Extracorporeal shock wave therapy in the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy, Current Opin Orthop 2007; 18: 101- 111

Rompe, JDRadial Shock Wave Therapy- Where do we stand today?; Translation from Medical Special, Apr 2006

Leave a reply