What is extracorporeal radial shockwave therapy?
Extracorporeal radial shockwave therapy (ESWT) uses high intensity acoustic waves to deliver a high energy impulse to the treatment area. These acoustic shockwaves enter the tissue via an applicator that disrupts the tissues to stimulate healing.
How does it work?
- provides an instant analgesic effect by inhibition of pain receptors
- breaks down scar tissue and calcifications
- produces an inflammatory response which increases metabolic activity around the site of treatment – stimulating and accelerating the healing process
What are the benefits of shockwave?
Shockwaves act upon the nerve, helping to give an instant analgesic effect. The increase in metabolic activity leads to stimulation and acceleration of the healing process – and in turn can lead to improved function.
How long does the treatment last?
In ESWT we normally aim to deliver around 2,000 impulses. This often takes around 5-10 minutes, depending on the area treated and the individual’s tolerance to treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
We usually perform 3-5 sessions at 1-week intervals to give the full dose of treatment needed – though additional treatments may be required if it takes more time for your condition to respond.
If treatment is being funded by your private medical insurance, it’s important to ask them what’s covered. You may be required to self-fund or part-fund your treatment.
Does the treatment hurt?
You may feel some discomfort or pain, but this will usually be for less than 5 minutes. This is usually followed by an analgesic effect. Most people can tolerate this, but if not we can adjust the treatment dose accordingly.
What happens after the treatment?
Most people experience instant pain relief – a numbing effect. However there may be some discomfort for 24 hours afterwards.
Are there any side effects?
There are some minor side effects which can include:
- pain during treatment
- bruising around the treatment area
There is a theoretical risk of rupture – though there’s no evidence to support this theory.
What should I do if I’m in pain after the treatment?
Shockwave treatment will trigger an inflammatory response to help promote healing – so don’t use anti-inflammatories or ice to manage the pain, as this will suppress the treatment effect.
The pain will normally subside in 24 hours. Use paracetamol to manage the pain and if you’re unsure, speak to your GP or pharmacist for further advice.
What is its success rate?
- treatment success is seen as a 75% reduction in pain after 3 months
- ESWT has an 80-90% success rate
- for the best outcome, combine ESWT with a Physiotherapy rehab programme
What if it doesn’t work for me?
Although the short-term effects alone are excellent, the long-term effects of ESWT can take up to 4 months.
If you’re still having problems after this timeframe, please speak to your treating therapist about any additional treatment or alternative treatment you might need.