Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)

Radial extracorporeal shockwave treatment is a noninvasive treatment that involves the delivery of shockwaves to the painful region with the objective of reducing pain and promoting healing of the affected soft tissue. Utah Sports and Wellness offers ESWT for $75 per session. We recommend 4-6 sessions depending on severity. ESWT is recommended for: Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, calcific tendonitis of the shoulder (rotator cuff), tennis elbow, golfers’ elbow, greater trochanter bursitis. (please see research links below)

WHAT IS ESWT?
As a popular European treatment therapy for patients and elite athletes, ESWT works by targeting shock waves directly to the area triggering pain. Initially developed to break up kidney stones, research shows that many orthopedic injuries improve with ESWT. This non-invasive procedure does not involve needles or surgery.

HOW DOES ESWT REDUCE PAIN?
The mechanism of action is based on shockwaves interrupting pain pathways of the inflamed nerves at cellular levels. This leads to restoration of healthy nerve function and promotes new blood vessel growth to facilitate natural healing.

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS OR COMPLICATIONS?
One of the main benefits of ESWT is the low risk. The treatment “extracorporeal,” meaning that patients receive the therapy “outside the body” instead of invasive surgery. Depending on the diagnosis patients may experience mild temporary discomfort during treatment as ESWT seeks out painful regions to desensitize them. The shockwaves are directed at the point of maximum symptoms to optimize healing. Rarely ESWT may cause skin redness, bruising, numbness, tingling or radiating pain. If these symptoms do occur, they are short lived and self-resolving. Contraindications to shockwave therapy include bleeding disorders and pregnancy.

HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARE RECOMMENDED AND AT WHAT INTERVALS?
Typically, a total of 6 treatment sessions are recommended once per week.

ARE THERE STUDIES DOCUMENTING ITS SUCCESS RATE?
There’s an abundance of published research to support its use, including double blind randomized controlled studies. To highlight just a few, 250 patients with Plantar Fasciitis were divided into groups and the ones that received ESWT experienced significant reduction in pain compared to those that did not. In a study with MRI evidence of bone marrow inflammation in the knee joint as seen on MRI, there was statistically significant reduction of this finding on MRI at 6 months followed by complete resolution on MRI at 12 months after receiving ESWT. Bone inflammation (termed bony edema) has been found to be predictive of more significant pain levels in patients having knee arthritis and its resolution on MRI correlates with pain reduction and functional improvement.

Resources and Studies: