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What is shockwave therapy?

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) has been in clinical practice since the 1980s as a method to provide lithotripsy – a treatment whereby renal stones are targeted by sound waves to break them into particles. More recently however ESWT is used to treat a range of musculoskeletal conditions including tendinopathy, trigger points, plantarfasciitis, tennis elbow and calcific shoulder. The mechanical shockwave is essentially an acoustic wave that passes through the skin to the injured tissue. The energy which is delivered promotes increased blood flow to the injured tissue via a process called neovascularization. This creates new capillaries which deliver much needed nutrients to the injury, assisting in tissue regeneration. This is part of the reason ESWT is very good at treating stubborn, chronic conditions which often have poor circulation. The benefits of this treatment are accelerated tissue repair, cell growth and analgesia. Typically treatment time is <20 minutes and would usually require 3-5 sessions for resolution of symptoms. To find out more about shockwave therapy I have provided the following article.

van der Worp, H., van den Akker-Scheek, I., Van Schie, H., & Zwerver, J. (2013). ESWT for tendinopathy: technology and clinical implications. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 21(6), 1451-1458.

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