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How Does Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy Help Your Muscles and Bones?

Dr. Naveen Devarajaiah 91% (60 ratings)
Fellowship in Joint Replacement, Fellowship in Hand Surgery, MS - Orthopaedics, MBBS
Orthopedist, Bangalore  •  18 years experience
How Does Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy Help Your Muscles and Bones?

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is a highly effective and innovative treatment option in a variety of fields, from urology to cosmetology including orthopedics. This is a non-invasive method that employs high-energy shockwaves to bring about the healing of the affected tissues. It has been found to provide good results for recalcitrant orthopaedic problems like frozen shoulder to certain chronic degenerative or tendon conditions such as Achilles tendinitis (injury of the Achilles' tendon due to overuse) and plantar fasciitis in heel pain.

How does it work?

The procedure is basically an outpatient/ daycare job. It involves the application of a non-invasive probe to the affected tissue. This is followed by the external generation of shockwaves focused on the target area. The shockwaves cause a force to be created that brings about healing. Although it's still not clear as to why this kind of therapy works, the dominant understanding is that shockwaves render an improvement in the flow of blood so as to promote the body to fix and heal itself.

Depending on individual cases, high or low energy waves may be employed. While pain may occur during the transmission of high energy waves and would require short general anaesthesia, low-energy ESWT is carried out without anesthesia.

What problems can this form of therapy effectively tackle?

ESWT can be used to treat a number of musculoskeletal disorders. From plantar fasciitis (heel pain), tennis elbow, shoulder rotator cuff, degenerated tendons (Achilles' tendon) to hip and knee pain, the therapy has been found to reduce pain as well as accelerate healing in individuals.

Complications are very few and far between with this therapy. Individuals who suffer from hypersensitivity or poor sensation in the affected area are usually not recommended this procedure. Even individuals with heart conditions, seizures and open sores need to consult a doctor before going forward with the therapy.

The therapy has also been found to be very effective in bone healing as well as treatment of bone necrosis (a disease that occurs due to permanent or temporary loss of blood flow to the bones). Additionally in place of surgery, ESWT may also be a valuable option for non-healing fractures.

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