Shockwave therapy, also known as Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT), is an effective treatment option for chronic, poor healing tissues in the body. The shockwaves are mechanical pressure pulses, not electrical pulses, which create an audible ticking sound thanks to a sound wave produced by the machine. These pulses are aimed over the affected tissue to create physical changes and encourage healing.
Shockwave therapy can be a great treatment if you are still struggling with that chronic joint and soft tissue pain condition and you have tried everything else. It has evidence to support its use for:
Treatment is usually quick! It's anticipated that between 3 and 6 sessions are needed for most people, depending on your individual circumstances, at approximately a week apart.
The treatment itself can be a little uncomfortable, but settings are constantly monitored during the treatment to ensure they're within your tolerance levels. Any discomfort very quickly settles during the treatment.
After treatment, you may experience more pain temporarily, redness, bruising, swelling, and numbness. These side effects should resolve within a week before your next treatment. Studies have shown that 5-7 out of 10 people receiving this treatment have found it effective. There is a minimal risk of tendon or ligament rupture and damage to the soft tissue.
After treatment, you'll be fine to get up and move straight away, as with any of our treatments. You will be able to go back to daily life, including work, immediately; however, you should avoid strenuous, pain-provoking exercise or high impact exercise for 48 hours after your treatment.
It's advisable not to use ice therapy or anti-inflammatory medication as this can interfere with the body's healing mechanism, stopping the beneficial effects of your treatment. Please DO NOT stop any medication without your GP/Consultant's advice first, before treatment commences.
Shockwave isn't suitable for a small range of people unfortunately. If you have any of the following, then you should talk to your GP or consultant about shockwave therapy before going ahead with treatment:
Along with these, you need to tell your therapist if you are pregnant or have an implanted device such as a pacemaker as these require significant caution.
Shockwave treatment is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), who produce guidelines for treatment with Shockwave for various conditions. These documents can be found on the NICE website.
Wang, CJ. Wang, FS. Yang, K. Weng, LH. Ko, JY. (2006). Long-term Results of Extracorporeal Shockwave Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis. American Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol(34)4 :592-596
Notarnicola, A. Moretti, B.(2012) The biological effects of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (eswt) on tendon tissue. Muscles Ligaments Tendons J Jun 17; 2(1):33-7.