Shockwave Therapy

What is extracorporeal radial shockwave therapy

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESTW) is a non-invasive technology that delivers intense sound waves to afflicted areas of the body and aids recovery. It has become widely accepted in clinical practice for the treatment of chronic soft tissue injuries. NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has reviewed ESTW and approved its use in the treatment of six conditions.

How does it work

The treatment produces an inflammatory response and puts the cells into repair mode. The body responds by increasing metabolic activity around the site. This stimulates and accelerates the healing process, promoting the remodeling of dysfunctional collagenous tissues, such as tendinopathies, trigger points and muscle strains. Pain is diminished through neurological mechanisms. Shockwaves can also be used to break down scar tissue or calcification in a tendon.

Common treatments (but not limited to):

  • Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Heel spurs
  • Patellar Tendinopathy
  • Osgood Schlatter disease
  • Greater trochanter pain syndrome
  • Shin splints
  • Tennis or golfer's elbow
  • Periarticular shoulder pain
  • Calcifying tendinopathy of the shoulder
  • Rotator cuff tendinopathy
  • Adductor tendinopathy syndrome
  • Pes-Anserinus tendinopathy
  • Rotator cuff tendinopathy without calcification
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Adductor tendinopathy syndrome
  • Pes-Anserinus tendinopathy syndrome
  • Peroneal tendinopathy
  • Foot and ankle tendinopathies
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Dupuytren disease
  • Plantar fibromatosis (Ledderhose disease)
  • De Quervain disease
  • Trigger finger
  • Low Back Pain (Facet joint syndrome)

What are the benefits of Shockwave Treatment

This therapy stimulates blood circulation and metabolism in the impact area which in turn accelerates the body’s own healing processes. The shockwaves can also break down calcification and scar tissue. There is often an immediate reduction of pain and improved range of motion.

How long does the treatment last

Approximately 2000 shocks (usually less than 5 minutes) are administered per treatment area. Some conditions require more shocks and duration, depending on severity and chronicity.

Treatment Costs

Shockwave treatment is £10 in addition to your consultation fee. If you are insured you are advised to check whether your insurance company will cover the cost of this treatment.

How many treatments will I need

Normally three to five treatments are necessary at weekly intervals. There is a small possibility that 2 or more additional treatments may be necessary. It is important that any side effects have resolved before the next treatment. A gap of 4 weeks after the last treatment is needed to assess response.

Does the treatment hurt

It may be uncomfortable and most people are able to tolerate it. If you cannot tolerate it, adjustments on the machine can decrease the pressure you feel.

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 on the area. The pain should subside within 24 hours. See your GP or Pharmacist for pain relief medication if required.

What if I feel fine after the treatment

Even if you feel fine, we recommend decreased activity for 48 hours following the treatment.

What is the success rate of this kind of treatment?

Successful treatment is considered as having at least a 75% reduction in pain within 3 months. Worldwide, success rates are around 80 to 90%.

What if it doesn't work for me

Although the short-term effects alone are exceptional, the long-term benefits of this treatment may take up to 3-4 months. If after this time there has not been any marked improvement, you should see your doctor for further treatment options.

Contraindications and Precautions

  • Pregnancy or trying to conceive
  • Application over open growth plates
  • Over the heart, lung, eyes, brain, major blood vessels, major nerves, implanted devices or implanted hormones
  • Over malignant tumours
  • Infection in the local area, open wounds, clotting disorders, nerve or circulation disorders
  • A history of achilles tendon rupture or plantar fascia rupture
  • A steroid injection into the affected area in the previous 6 weeks

Side effects include: (These side effects generally abate after 5 to 10 days.)

  • Reddening of the skin
  • Pain and bruising 5%
  • Less common complications included swelling, migraine, syncope, nausea and dizziness.
  • You may also experience some transient side effects such as local red spots (petechiae) and numbness. All of these should resolve in a few days.