What is ShockWave Therapy?
Shockwave therapy is a noninvasive procedure that uses high-pressure shock waves that are transmitted through tissues in the affected area and also promote the healing of diseased soft tissues. ESWT activates the body’s pain-blocking mechanism to heal the affected area. After that the body will release endorphins known as relaxing hormones and can inhibit the re-onset of pain and smooth blood circulation.
Who Needs Shock Wave Therapy and Expected Results
ESWT is used to treat various types of musculoskeletal pain, diseases, and health problems, especially those that attack connective tissue in the bones. This therapy is an advanced treatment option that will be considered if conservative treatment cannot cope with the patient’s pain. Conservative treatments such as ice therapy, rest, steroid injections, painkillers, and physiotherapy.
Although generally safe, shockwave therapy is not recommended for:
- Pregnant women
- Patients taking medications to inhibit blood clotting (anticoagulants) and antiplatetet drugs
- Patients who have bone tumors and certain bone metabolism problems
- Patients with neurological and circulatory disorders
- Patients wearing pacemakers or other assistive implants
- Patients affected by infection of the feet
- Patients who have been injected with steroids in the past three months.
Health Problems That Require Shock Wave Therapy
- Plantar fasciitis or Plantar fasciosis. The condition is characterized by sharp pain in the heel due to inflammation of the plantar fascia, which connects the bones with the toes.
- Achilles tendonitis. Conditions caused by an overused Achilles tendon. This tendon is located between the calf muscle and the back of the lower leg.
- Calcification of tendonitis. Pain due to calcium buildup in the tendons, which causes pressure and irritation
- Lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow. A condition characterized by inflammation and pain in the tendons in the elbow due to overuse of the muscles of the forearm, arm, and hand.
- Morton neuroma. Pain in the heel due to thickening of the connective tissue around the nerves between the bottom of the toes (commonly found in women, usually due to frequent high or tight heels)
- Heel spurs. Pain due to calcium deposits protrudes at the bottom of the heel bone.
How Shock Wave Therapy Works
After the patient’s medical records are examined, the procedure will begin by marking the area of the body that is hurting and triggering pain. Then, a special gel is applied to these parts. The ESWT handheld device is adjusted in position to emit shock waves in the target area of the therapy. This tool will conduct air pressure slowly through the ultrasound gel. This procedure takes about 15 minutes.
During the procedure, the patient usually feels a little pain. When a shock wave is emitted, orthopedic specialists can change the shock wave power so that the patient is not in too much pain. The pulse of energy from the shock wave inserted into the body will mimic the body’s natural healing process, so this procedure is very effective at triggering healing.
After the procedure is complete, the patient can usually stand and walk as usual. Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, or ice therapy are not recommended because they can inhibit the healing process. Patients can immediately do daily activities, but should avoid strenuous activities for 48 hours.
Most patients experience significant improvement after just one session. This therapy has a success rate of about 80%, which increases to 90% in the second session.
Possible Complications and Risks of Shock Wave Therapy
With shockwave therapy, the patient will not need surgery, anesthetics, or other medications. Therefore, this procedure has no side effects, if prepared properly. However, some patients claim to feel itchy sensations, hypersensitivity, red patches, bruising or swelling, numbness, and warm skin — all of which disappear within a few days.