Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is a noninvasive, FDA-approved technology that uses shock waves to treat chronic, painful conditions of the musculoskeletal system. ESWT produces intense, short energy waves that travel faster than the speed of sound. This shock wave, in turn, generates pulses of high pressure sound that travel through the skin, initiating tissue repair. ESWT can often heal even chronic conditions that the body has previously been unable to repair on its own. The weak shock waves interact with deep tissue where they cause mechanical stress and microtrauma that stimulate the body to jump into action.
ESWT for musculoskeletal injury
The body responds to the shock waves with production of fibroblasts — cells responsible for repair of connective tissues, such as tendon, ligaments, and fascia. Shock waves also simulate the body to produce new blood vessels that increase the delivery of nutrients to the affected area. This increased metabolism in the tissue promotes healing and subsequent dissolution of calcium deposits. Pressure from the shock waves creates cavitation bubbles, or small empty cavities behind an energy front. As these bubbles burst, they create a force strong enough to break up calcium deposits formed by chronic injury to soft tissue.
ESWT initially diminishes pain through what is known as hyper-stimulation anesthesia. This occurs when the nerves sending signals of pain to the brain are stimulated so much that their activity diminishes, thereby decreasing or eliminating pain. This effect is usually short lived. ESWT is effective in diminishing pain over longer periods of time through stimulation of the "gate-control" mechanism, activating a "reset" button that re-calibrates pain perception.
ESWT for arthritis
Osteoarthritis is ranked 11th globally as a leading cause of disability. OA involves several local and systemic factors: such as cytokines and inflammatory mediators which may cause damages to the synovium, cartilage, bone, muscles, ligaments, and other joint structures. ESWT helps to breakup calcified tissue caused by arthritis, improving mobility and range of motion in the joint. It has also been shown to restore growth of blood vessels and tissue to help limit further deterioration of the joint.
A recent study by West China Hospital found that "ESWT showed a significant effect in the treatment of OA in pain reduction or/and functional improvement compared with placebo, corticosteroid, HA, medication, ultrasound..." Read more.
ESWT: Procedure Snapshot
The procedure itself is simple and safe. Gel is placed on the treatment area and the pressure-wave applicator is moved over the treatment area for about 10-15 minutes. Patients usually experience benefit after 1-2 treatments and there is no down time.
ESWT is used to safely treat a wide array of acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain, stress fractures and reduction of scar tissue. It promotes bone and tendon healing.
Conditions treated include:
- Achilles pain
- Back pain
- Elbow pain (lateral and medial)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Frozen shoulder
- Hamstring issues
- Hip pain
- Knee pain
- Muscle and connective tissue
- Neck Pain
- Overuse injuries
- Scar tissue treatment
- Shin splints
- Shoulder pain activation
- Tendon injuries
- Tennis and golfer’s elbow