also known as Extracorporal Shock Wave Therapy ESWT
What is Shockwave therapy?
SWT is a young and very fast growing therapy which has gained acceptance within the orthopaedic community across the world.
20 years ago SWT was introduced for disintegration of kidney stones. More recently SWT has been gathering support for the treatment of tendons, stress fractures and wounds. SWT can result in the avoidance of surgeries and is a much cheaper and less invasive alternative with its safe and pain free application.
Listed below are some common conditions Shockwave Therapy can help:
- Calcific or non-calcific tendonitis of the rotator cuff
- Achilles tendonitis
- Plantar fasciitis or heel spur
- Patella tendonitis
- Shin splints or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome
- Tennis of Golfers elbow (epicondylitis)
- Dupuytren’s Contracture
- Stress fractures
- Joint injuries
- Muscle pain
How does Shockwave therapy work?
Shockwaves are acoustic waves that you might hear with thunder claps or jet planes. They can transmit energy as indicated by the ability of a sound to break glass! Treatment by SWT is painless and safe. A rapidly moving projectile transmits shockwaves into the treatment head which then transfers the energy into the affected area of the body.
Shockwaves entering the body result in enhancement of neovascularisation at the tendon-bone interface. Neovascularisation (or new blood vessel growth) stimulates healing by introducing blood to encourage healing of the poorly vascularised tendon-bone interface. SWT has been shown to stimulate the release of Fibroblasts for the healing of connective tissue (such as ligaments of tendons) and Osteoblasts for the creation of new bone tissue.
The benefits of Shockwave Therapy may be:
- Clear and immediate pain reduction
- Improvement of range of movement (ROM)
- Removal of calcification
- Stimulation of tendon-bone healing
Research on Shockwave therapy so far
Through strict research criteria SWT has been approved in the U.S for treatment of plantar fascitis and tennis elbow. Scientific research has also proven SWT to assist delayed and non-union of bone as well as calcific tendonitis of the shoulder. Some German studies have shown that pain reduction in shoulder patient occurs in 30-70% of cases, with 20-70% of these cases showing complete disintegration of the calcium deposits.
Preliminary research reveals promising results for the approved for many other tendon problems. The same principles working on plantar fasciitis and tennis elbow apply to all tendons due to the similar composition of connective tissue throughout the body.
Is this treatment for you?
Although it cannot be predicted which patients will respond to SWT many studies have collaborated to give the notion of an indicated success rate of between 65-95% (with an average of 80%).
Many patients will feel the effect of SWT after the initial treatment but often these effects are temporary. It is advised for continued healing that SWT is applied 6-8 times depending on the diagnosis and severity of the problem. Tissue healing generally begins after several days and although the patient may feel improvement after this time true healing may take several weeks or months.
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