Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy: Benefits and Advances

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy
Image Credit: ewst.info

“Take a few minutes each and every day to ensure that your mind is nourished properly and positively. After all, a healthy mind leads to a happier view of life and with a happier view of life it is much easier to counter the negative impact other issues will have on us.” – Catherine Pulsifer

External stimulation can be applied to the body, in order to induce therapeutic results. The innovation of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) involves the application of shock waves to injured soft tissue. Via the introduction of vibrational energy, the pain sensation in the area is reduced and healing of the site is accelerated. 

ESWT is often administered to patients who have orthopaedic conditions that have not responded to more acute preliminary treatments. Initially approved to treat conditions such as plantar fasciopathy, ESWT is now being applied to a variety of treatments including: 

  • Rotator cuff
  • Lateral epicondyle
  • Medial epicondyle
  • Greater trochanter (gluteus medius and minimus)
  • Proximal hamstring origin
  • Rectus femoris
  • Distal quadricep
  • Patellar tendon
  • Posterior tibial
  • Peroneal
  • Achilles
  • Plantar fascia

Benefits of ESWT

As an intermediary treatment for orthopaedic conditions that are not yet severe enough for more invasive procedures such as surgery, ESWT has proven to be quite effective in healing its target conditions. Many athletes tend to utilize ESWT therapy as a countermeasure to pain during their seasons. As a therapy that enhances pain management and relief, many athletes benefit from the improvements in recovery time between treatment sessions. A series of treatments is often recommended for optimum results. Treatment sessions normally last for approximately 30 minutes. 

After treatment, many patients take a day or two off in order to enhance their recovery. During this time, treatment effects may be experienced. These include mild bruising, numbness in the area, slight pain, swelling and tingling sensations. They normally go away within a few days of the treatment, and are not as severe as the effects of having undergone a surgical treatment. 

For this reason, ESWT is utilized as a preventative treatment, in order to minimize the odds of patients having to undergo orthopaedic surgery. 

Advances in ESWT application 

ESWT has been proved to induce effects on cells within the body. These effects include regulation of cell activity as well as stimulation of their function and metabolism. ESWT is found to improve proliferation, migration and regeneration of cells within organisms under study. The predominant impact is on mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). The mechanism of action of these cells have impacts on cell growth,  inflammation and immunity. Clinical trials on the applications of ESWT to horses proved effective in treating tendon and ligament lesions. Medical science is now aiming to apply such effects in humans [2]. In a study of three equine samples ESWT treated cells indicated increases in their metabolic activity and showed favorability in differentiating toward the adipogenic and osteogenic cell fates. 

References: 

  1. Frontiers: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.554306/full
  2. Mayo Clinic: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

Leave a comment

Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

Copyright © 2022 orthopaedic-surgeon.com.au