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Shockwave Therapy For Sporting Injuries

Extracorporeal Shockwave Treatment (ESWT) has been a physio treatment technique for more than 40 years. Initially, the shockwave treatment was used to disintegrate urinary stones. Now, it plays an important role in sports physiotherapy and the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. 

What is Extracorporeal Shockwave Treatment?

Shockwave treatment has evolved from being used to disintegrate tissue, to regenerating tissue. The biological responses patients experience on a cellular, molecular and tissue level explain why it is an effective part of the treatment and management process for many sporting injuries. 

It is a non-invasive treatment that can be completed in a regular physiotherapy session. 

Patients occasionally feel mild discomfort, particularly if the treatment occurs in an inflamed or injured area. Often, patients experience immediate relief of symptoms after the shockwave therapy treatment. 

Shockwave therapy treatment is an excellent alternative to surgery for suitable candidates. Patients do not require extensive rehabilitation or experience the trauma and cost of a surgery. 

What Injuries is Shockwave Therapy Effective for? 

Extracorporeal shockwave treatment (ESWT) is a safe and non-invasive therapy, however, results vary depending on the type of musculoskeletal condition of the patient. 

Below, we summarise research into the effectiveness of shockwave therapy for the treatment of specific conditions. Please consult your physiotherapist as individual treatment requirements and outcomes may vary. 

Tendinopathies of the Shoulder

In 71-88% of cases, high energy ESWT reduced pain and improved function and calcium resorption for patients with calcific shoulder tendons. In contrast, non-calcific tendinopathies of the shoulder were not benefited by shockwave treatment. This means for tears and degeneration that do not have a cacific pathology, shockwave treatment may not be the best treatment option. 

Lateral Epicondylitis (Commonly Known as Tennis Elbow)

While only limited research has been done into the benefit of shockwave therapy on treating Tennis Elbow, some studies have shown an improvement in function and a reduction of pain. 

Patellar Tendinopathy

Research evidence supports the use of shockwave therapy for patellar tendinopathy patients. This is particularly effective for patients wanting to avoid invasive treatment options. 

Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome

Shockwave therapy has shown to be effective in patients with greater trochanteric pain syndrome when they undergo the treatment for longer periods of approximately four months. In the long term, shockwave therapy is considered to be more effective than steroid injections and home exercise. 

Achilles Tendinopathy 

Low energy shockwave therapy is shown to be effective for achilles tendinopathy patients. Reduced pain and improved function outcomes are suggested by current evidence.

Adhesive Capsulitis of the Shoulder (Commonly known as Frozen Shoulder)

Studies that compared shockwave therapy with traditional therapy including ultrasound and heat packs determined that after four weeks, patients in the shockwave treatment group had a greater improvement in their range of motion and a greater reduction in pain symptoms.

Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Pain)

Current evidence suggests that shockwave therapy should be recommended for plantar fasciitis patients, particularly when other non-operative treatments have been unsuccessful.

Bone Disorders 

Shockwave therapy has been shown to stimulate bone healing and evidence strongly supports that shockwave treatment could delay nonunion and union factors. 

Shockwave therapy utilises powerful acoustic shock waves to encourage damaged tissues to heal. This non-invasive therapy can assist patients by increasing functionality and reducing pain. Its efficacy in the treatment of various musculoskeletal injuries has been demonstrated. If you believe that shockwave therapy could be the right treatment for you, book an appointment with one of our skilled physiotherapists at Northern Districts Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic.

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Northern Districts Physiotherapy

Northern Districts Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic was established in 1995 and consists of an energetic team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who take the time to understand ...


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