Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is a treatment technique in which patients are exposed to strong ultrasonic sound waves that penetrate the soft tissues. Shockwave therapy is a safe and globally applied treatment method.
In shockwave therapy, sound waves (shock waves) are used to trigger and reinforce the natural healing process in overloaded or calcifying tendons. By means of a probe, these waves are focused in such a way that they have a mechanical effect at a relatively precise location in the body.
Shockwave therapy is used to treat various conditions, such as:
- Heel spur.
- Tibial disorders (shin splints).
- Achilles tendon problems.
- Jumpers knee.
- Tennis elbow.
- Golfers elbow.
- Tendon disorders (with calcifications) in the shoulder.
- Stress fractures and badly healing bone fractures.
With shockwave treatment, the doctor uses an advanced shockwave device (ESWT system), which generates highly targeted, high-energy shock waves. A gel is applied to the skin, which ensures better conductivity of the shock waves. Then the shock waves are administered by placing the probe of the shockwave device onto the skin. One can hear and feel the shock waves as these are administered. Despite anesthesia, the shock waves can be sensitive to painful. The treatment lasts fifteen to twenty-five minutes. The patient can return home after the treatment. Usually, three treatments are required. There are one to three weeks between the treatments.
The treatment yields good results in chronic tendon and tendon attachment problems that don’t respond adequately to physical therapy, rest and medication. Often a single treatment already has effect. Some people experience immediate pain relief after treatment, although in other cases it may take weeks before the pain reduces. An operation can sometimes be prevented by this treatment method.
- The treated area can be sensitive and red for up to 24 hours after the therapy. Paracetamol can be taken when there is a lot of afterpain.
- The patient receives instructions from the physical therapist about how heavy and how he or she may load the spot. Usually, the treated body part can be loaded if it doesn’t cause pain, but doing sports is usually not recommended.