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What is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)? How is it applied?

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is known as a method which has been started to be used in 1980’s especially to treat kidney stones in urology. With this therapy, it is achieved to treat the stone kidneys by crumbling. The scientific researches reveal that ESWT has also other benefits. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy is used for the chronic tendon problems and pains of heel spur. Memorial Şişli Hospital Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Department Chair Prof. Dr. Engin Çakar has made significant recommendations regarding the Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy.

What is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)?

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is a therapy in which strong acoustic blows are used in the treatment of kidney stones, physical therapy and orthopedics. It provides an opportunity to heal for the tendons and ligaments by damaging the area in cellular level while sending the shock waves to the bone or soft tissue. The re-damaging of the tissue under control enables the restructuring of the blood flow and bone cells. The re-blooding enables the faster recovery and returning to the activity levels prior to the injury in general.

In which issues is the Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) used?

Heel spur (calcaneal spur), plantar inflammation (plantar fasciitis), tendon arthritis (calcific tendinitis) Achilles tendinitis, tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) medial tibial stress syndrome and patellar tendinopathy are the main diseases in which the method of ESWT is used.

How does Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) operate?

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy can be applied in low or high energy levels.

Before the application, a material like gel is applied on the painful area. Then the ESWT probe is pressed onto the affected area and the shock waves are directed via skin. The shock wave therapy forms a micro trauma on the tissue with the pneumatic effect (pressurized air effect). The micro waves create a healing effect on the tissue and enables the tissue to give response naturally while increasing the blood circulation, blood vessels and metabolism in the injured tissue.

Does Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) cause pain?

The shock waves are felt as the non-painful blows. Initiated in a low intensity level, it is increased until the point you feel comfortable. ESWT does not necessitate anesthesia and inpatient treatment, it is ambulatory. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy is generally applied once a week. Each session takes approximately 20 minutes.

Patients may feel a slight pain during the session and this pain may continue for a while. In general, this uneasy feeling does not last more than one day.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) Application

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) duration varies according to the applied energy level. During the session, the patient is laid in a comfortable position. The area on which the treatment will be applied is detected with ultrasound or physical examination.

The duration of ESWT session varies according to the area on which it is applied, it is generally 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, 2500 shock wave blow is applied on the area in average. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy can be applied once a week for 3-5 weeks.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy Options

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy has been approved by USA Health Department FDA in 2000. One of the advantages of ESWT is known as being a non-surgical option for the problems of chronic tendon (the ligaments which transmit the power produced by the muscles to the bones and joints). As a result of the surgical treatment applied for heel spur or plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the tissue band which is reaching from heel to the toes), there can be infection, wound problems and complaints, and failure to cure the problem. For this reason, the non-surgical treatments like Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy are given priority if possible.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy may not work at all or work as powerful as intended in every patient. Scientific researches reveal that the success rate of ESWT is between 50%-90% in cases of plantar inflammation.



Prepared by the Medical Editorial Board. Our health library contents have been prepared for informational purposes only and with the scientific content on the registration date. For all your questions, concerns, diagnosis or treatment about your health, please consult your doctor or health institution.


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