Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT)

What is Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)?

Shockwave therapy or Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) uses shockwaves produced outside the skin (extracorporeal) which safely pass through skin into injured parts of the body to provide pain relief and rehabilitation of function. Shockwaves are mechanical, audible, low-energy sound waves and impulses of energy which produce micro traumas to specific damaged tissues. The resulting procedure causes an increased blood flow to the treatment area which accelerates the body’s healing process and decreases local pain factors. Shockwaves can also provide benefits in breaking down calcification & disorganised tissue.

Physiology of ESWT

Shockwaves are sound waves that have specific physical characteristics, including nonlinearity, high peak pressure followed by low tensile amplitude, short rise time, and short duration (10 ms). They have a single pulse, a wide frequency range (0-20 MHz), and a high pressure amplitude (0-120 MPa)

These characteristics produce a positive and negative phase of shockwave. The positive phase produces direct mechanical forces, whereas the negative phase generates cavitation and gas bubbles that subsequently implode at high speeds, generating a second wave of shockwaves.[6]

In comparison to ultrasound waves, the shockwave peak pressure is approximately 1000 times greater than the peak pressure of an ultrasound wave.

What can ESWT be used for?

ESWT or shockwave therapy is a highly effective treatment for many of the conditions listed below, particularly connective tissues injuries and dysfunctions and chronic conditions. It is recommended by the NICE guidelines (National Institute for Health & Care Excellence) and is commonly used within the NHS and in private health care.

Conditions include but not limited to:

  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Calcaneal Tendinopathy
  • Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Quadriceps Tendinopathy
  • Patella Tendinopathy
  • Calcific Tendonitis of the Shoulder
  • Tennis Elbow (common extensor tendinopathy)
  • Greater trochanteric Pain Syndrome
    • Gluteus Medius Tendinopathy
    • Trochanteric Bursitis (Lateral Hip Pain)

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