Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a highly successful instrumental physiotherapy technique for the treatment of specific pathologies of the musculoskeletal system.
Shockwaves are most often used to treat chronic pathologies of the musculoskeletal system. These include:
- calcification in the shoulder,
- tennis elbow,
- golf elbow,
- patellar ligament tendinopathy or jumping knee,
- Achilles tendinopathy,
- plantar fasciitis,
- pain syndrome of the greater trochanter,
- tendinopathies of the posterior box and iliopsoas muscles,
- tendinopathies of the quadriceps tendon,
- bone pathologies (delayed fracture healing, pseudoarthroses, stress fractures, avascular necrosis of bone, osteochondritis dissecans),
- and skin pathologies (poor wound healing, skin ulcers, severe burns).
Shockwaves occur at large ranges of pressure changes, causing waves of compressional and tensional forces. Shockwaves have been successfully used in physiotherapy as an instrumental method for treating various musculoskeletal disorders for more than 20 years.
Shockwave therapy is considered an effective, safe, and non-invasive instrumental therapy. Whilst the exact mechanism behind the function of shockwaves is not completely elucidated to date, the high clinical efficacy of the treatment has led to an increasing demand from patients for ESWT pain treatment.
The two main mechanisms of shockwave functioning are:
- hyperstimulation analgesia
- mechanotransduction (the conversion of a mechanical stimulus into electrochemical signals within the cell), which results in proliferation and differentiation of cells of the musculoskeletal system.