Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is effective for all musculo-skeletal problems even when other therapies have proved ineffective. ESWT uses a series of high energy shockwaves applied to the area that needs treatment. The shockwave is delivered to the tissue via a compressed air impulse exerted by the hand piece of the machine. The treatment then initiates an inflammation-like condition in the tissue that is being treated. The body responds by increasing the blood circulation and metabolism at the treatment area which in turn accelerates the body’s own healing processes. The shockwaves break down injured tissue and calcifications.
Shockwave offers several advantages over more interventional procedures:
Prior to a beginning your course of Shockwave treatments, you will need either an ultrasound or MRI scan (depending on the area), to ascertain your suitability for treatment. The recommendation to proceed to shockwave therapy will be made by a Consultant Radiologist following discussion with your Consultant or referrer. A course of three appointments are required, with a break of one week between each appointment.
Before embarking on Shockwave treatment there are some things that you should be aware of:
You will be positioned on the examination couch and the Consultant will locate the pain by palpation and feedback from you. The area to be treated may be marked for accuracy and a gel is applied to the skin to optimise the contact between the Shockwave applicator and the treatment area. The hand piece delivers shockwaves to the area for just a few minutes depending on what is required.
Sometimes the treatment can be slightly uncomfortable, but if you are in too much pain please tell the Consultant straight away.
You will normally experience a reduced level of pain or no pain at all immediately after the treatment, but a mild and diffuse pain can occur a few hours later. This dull pain can last for a day or two.
Shockwave Therapy initiates a pro-inflammatory condition in the tissue that is being treated. If necessary you may take non-prescription pain killers such as Paracetamol, but do not take anti-inflammatory medication. Do not put ice on the treated area as this interferes with the body’s self-healing abilities.