What is Shockwave Therapy?

Have you been suffering from heel pain that won’t go away? Tennis elbow that has not responded to conservative treatment (including a cortisone injection)? How about tendonitis or calcification of the shoulder that limits your functional mobility at work, home and during your sporting activities? Have you reached the point where you are ready to give up and surgery seems the only alternative? If so, Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) may be the solution you have been looking for.

What is ESWT?

ESWT is a fast and effective non-surgical method of reducing or eliminating pain from muscle, tendon, calcification and bone spurs. It is derived from lithotripsy, a technique used today to disintegrate kidney stones noninvasively. The Zimmer Medizin System (the brand of ESWT Allied Physio uses) delivers pneumatically generated high-pressure waves that travel through the skin to the underlying injured tissues. High energy pulsations of ultrasonic waves stimulate the repair and remodelling of the injured tissue.

What conditions does it treat?

The non-invasive treatment stimulates inflamed and thickened tendons, calcification and heel spurs to heal without any harm to the surrounding tissue.  Examples of common conditions treated with ESWT would be heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, chronic tennis elbow, calcification in the rotator cuff of the shoulder. ESWT is especially beneficial for patients with chronic shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and heel pain that have not had much success with traditional therapies -such as medications, orthotics, injections, physiotherapy, and alternative therapies.

Why should I seek ESWT treatment with a physiotherapist?

A medical history and clinical examination form an important component of ensuring a successful outcome when using ESWT as a treatment modality. In the case of chronic plantar fasciitis, it is imperative to assess biomechanical factors such as leg length discrepancies, foot posture (pronation or supination), spinal alignment and core stability of the pelvis and the lumbar spine. To ensure a positive outcome when treating rotator cuff tendonitis and tennis elbow, special attention must be focused on the alignment of the neck and shoulder blades, muscle strength/flexibility and core stability of the postural muscles. A physiotherapist is trained and experienced in these areas and can best help you to reach your desired outcomes.

What is the treatment like?

There is virtually no side effect with ESWT since no medication, surgery, injections, or anesthesia is involved. Some patients may experience a short period of mild pain, slight tingling, warmth or numbness immediately after their treatment. A typical treatment session lasts 10-20 minutes. Patients generally require one session per week for three weeks. Most patients report improvements after the first treatment, with up to 90% improvement after the third treatment.

Not surprisingly ESWT is proving to be a successful modality in the treatment of chronic pain. ESWT is a very safe treatment, however, like all electrotherapy modalities it is not used on pregnant women, patients with pacemakers or on patients with certain medical conditions.

To Learn more about Shockwave Therapy, please click here.