Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy

What is Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy?

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy, (or ESWT), is a new technology using shockwaves to treat chronic, painful conditions of the musculoskeletal system.  A shockwave is an intense, but very short energy wave traveling faster than the speed of sound.  The word “Extra-corporeal” means “outside the body” and refers to the fact that the shockwaves are generated outside the body by the device.

How Does ESWT Help?

ESWT helps promote new healing and control pain. The treatment produces an inflammatory response. The body responds to this new inflammation by increasing metabolic activity around the site of pain. This stimulates and accelerates the healing process. The microtrauma of the repeated shock wave to the affected area creates neo-vascularization (new blood flow) into the area. It is this new blood flow that promotes tissue healing.

What Are The Indications For ESWT?

  •  Plantar Fasciitis
  • Heel Spurs
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Golfer’s Elbow
  • Morton’ s Neuroma
  • Calcific Rotator Cuff Tendinitis/Tendonopathy
  • Bursitis
  • Achilles Tendinopathy/Tendonitis
  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Jumpers Knee
  • Shin Splints
  • Stress Fractures
  • Osteoarthritis

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

The number of Shockwave Therapy treatments required often varies depending on the severity and chronicity of the injury. Many patients report that they start to feel relief and a decrease in symptoms after the first treatment. The typical treatment protocol usually requires 3-5 treatments at weekly intervals. Some chronic conditions may require additional treatments once per week, and this depends on how long you have had your condition.  A doctor or therapist will assess your condition and provide you with an estimate of the amount of treatments that has been found to be clinically appropriate to effectively treat your condition, and prevent it from returning.  After the treatment sessions are finished the injured area continues to heal for 6 to 18 weeks with maximal recovery occurring approximately 3 months after the treatment sessions end.

How Long Is A Typical Treatment Session?

1500-3000 shocks are administered per session, which last approximately 10-15 minutes.

Does The Treatment Hurt?

It is a 10-15 minute treatment that may be uncomfortable and most people are able to tolerate. However, if you cannot tolerate it, adjustments on the machine can decrease the pressure you feel.  If you are sensitive to noise, please be aware that the machine does make a striking sound as the compressor moves the cylinder to create the pressure wave.

Will It Hurt After The Treatment?

There may be no immediate pain, but some discomfort may be experienced 2-4 hours after the treatment. In some cases it can last up to 48 hours and in very rare cases, the pain lasted up to 5 days.

What should I Do If I Am In Pain After The Treatment?

The shockwave will trigger an inflammatory response, which is the body’s natural process of healing. For this reason, do not use anti-inflammatory medications. Do not use ice. The pain should subside within 24 hours. Pain can increase temporarily. Bruising and or swelling are also possible. Use Tylenol if necessary, provided you have no trouble with this medication.

Are There Any Contraindications With ESWT?

  • Coagulation disorders
  • Heart or circulatory patients
  • Use of anticoagulants
  • Tumour diseases, carcinoma, cancer patients
  • Pregnancy
  • Thrombosis
  • Polyneuropathy
  • Acute inflammations / pus focus in the target area
  • Children with open growth plates
  • Cortisone therapy up to 6 weeks before first treatment

Is Shockwave Therapy Covered By Insurance?

The treatment will be invoiced under the license of the providing therapist. If you have extended health insurance for physiotherapy or chiropractic, it should be covered by your plan. You will want to ask your insurance provider about the requirements of your coverage.