Shockwave therapy, also known as ESWT (extracorporeal shockwave therapy), is a non-invasive treatment that stimulates the body’s natural healing process by sending a series of high-energy percussions to the affected area. It has been shown to relieve pain and promote healing of injured muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues.
Shockwave therapy is classified as a type of regenerative medicine. It promotes healing by releasing growth factors in the injured tissue (“The biological effects of extracorporeal shock wave therapy on tendon tissue” by Angela Notarnicola and Biagio Moretti). The shockwave percussions liberate platelets from the capillary beds, causing stem cells to arrive. This stimulates angiogenesis, increasing microcirculation in the injured area. Some degenerative tendon problems are due to a build-up of calcium in the tendon, such as scar tissue. Shockwave therapy can also break up those calcium deposits.
ESWT can elicit an immediate reduction of pain and improved range of motion although results generally increase over time as the injured tissues heal. Treatment duration is approximately five to ten minutes depending on the severity and chronicity of the injury. Typically, four to six treatments are necessary at weekly intervals. Success rates with ESWT are around 80% to 90%.