Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is an established treatment alternative for many bone and soft tissue disorders. Most surgeons will use shockwave therapy after other non-operative treatments have failed,  if shockwave therapy doesn’t work, the next step is usually surgery.

How does it work?

A hand-held probe is used to deliver sound waves to the painful area. The shock wave is generated through a focused impulse that targets the pain. In studies this has been shown to reduce the quantity of nerve fibres that transmit painful impulses, causing a reduction in pain sensation. It can also lead to an increase in the tissue healing process, increasing the formation of new blood vessels. 
 

Common conditions

Shockwave therapy can treat a whole host of conditions across multiple areas of the body, this includes:

  • Achilles pain or tendinopathy
  • Tennis or golfer's elbow
  • Heel pain (plantar faciitis)

It is also used for treating fractures that have failed to heal successfully, such as displaced, non-union and stress fractures.

How is treatment carried out?

Shockwave therapy does not require anaesthetic, in most cases it is at most uncomfortable rather than painful. To ease any symptoms, painkillers can be taken just before your treatment.

A small amount of gel is applied to the skin and the shock wave probe is then pressed lightly onto the skin to deliver the rapid impulses. Each session typically lasts 5-15 minutes, and the number of sessions required will vary according to your consultant's opinion.