You may have noticed that the radio waves and internet have been flooded with advertisements for new erectile dysfunction (ED) treatments, including the use of shockwave therapy. Indeed, what is technically referred to as extracorporeal shockwave treatments (ESWT) does work very well for ED, which we offer here at Orchidia Medical Group in Naples, FL. What we don’t see and hear about are the multitude of uses that shockwave therapy has on other ailments, particularly musculoskeletal conditions involving muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
What is Shockwave Therapy, or ESWT?
Shockwave therapy or ESWT has little to do with electricity as the name suggests. Instead, the treatment generates very rapid pressure/acoustic waves that exert a focused amount of energy on its target, with numerous resulting effects on the body.
The acoustic waves can be focused to provide a high level of mechanical energy on specific points; it was first developed and used in this manner to induce the breaking up of kidney and ureter stones, helping them pass more easily without invasive surgery.
Over time, shockwave treatments have been applied to other conditions as well, with erectile dysfunction being one of the more popular uses today. There is data showing the promotion of angiogenesis, the growth and regeneration of new blood vessels, with the use of shockwave therapy. This is one of the reasons the treatment works to improve erectile problems due to blood flow issues.
More recently, shockwaves has been applied to various musculoskeletal conditions, with more and more evidence showing benefits. In addition to all the effects noted above, there seems to be specific pathways triggered in our cells to promote and accelerate healing. Now, we have the technology and the evidence to apply shockwave therapy for all sorts of nagging injuries.
What Can shockwave Therapy Do for Me?
When conservative measures such as rest, anti-inflammatory medications, bracing, and physical therapy/exercise have failed to achieve recovery from an injury, shockwave therapy has been shown to be a key component of obtaining the resolution of a multitude of conditions. With more and more studies being conducted, the list of possible uses keeps growing.
Plantar fasciopathy (PF) involves pain and structural changes at the proximal insertion of the plantar fascia, a strong ligament on the bottom of the foot that helps keep the arch from collapsing. Thickening, degeneration, and inflammation can occur to the ligament with this process, leading to pain that tends to be worse with the first step of the day.
PF is also very common, with one in ten people suffering from this condition within their lifetime. Risk factors for development includes advanced age, increased body mass index (BMI), anatomical factors like flat feet or tight calf muscles, and an active lifestyle with repetitive weight-bearing exercises.
Achilles tendinopathy is an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel. It commonly occurs in runners as well as middle- or older-aged weekend warriors (those that exercise or play sports only on the weekend). Even certain medications like antibiotics can lead to its development, with symptoms of sometimes significant heel pain.
Achilles tendinopathy is one of the most frequent ankle and foot overuse injuries, and may affect up to 1 in 10 of recreational runners and cause up to 5% of professional athletes to end their careers.
Patellar tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon connecting your kneecap (patella) to your shin. The patellar tendon works with the muscles at the front of your thigh to extend your knee so that you can kick, run and jump. Patellar tendinopathy is most common in athletes whose sports or exercise involve frequent jumping. Other risk factors including tight quadriceps or hamstrings, and increased weight or BMI.
Greater Trochanter Pain Syndrome
Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS) is a term used to describe chronic pain overlying the lateral aspect of the hip. The symptoms originate from the gluteal tendons in the hip region, and can also involve the trochanteric bursa (a fluid filled sac that reduces friction of the tendons over the bone and joint).
It tends to occur more often in women, and with coexisting low back pain, osteoarthritis, iliotibial (IT) band tenderness, and obesity. GTPS is very common, occurring in one study in up to 8.6% of men and 15% of women over one’s lifetime.
Lateral Epicondylitis of the Elbow
Lateral epicondylitis, sometimes referred to as tennis elbow, is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in your elbow are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. The pain primarily is felt where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. In addition to particular sports and exercise, certain occupations can be at risk, such as plumbers, painters, and carpenters.
The prevalence of lateral epicondylitis is quite high; even in the general population not at increased risk, it is estimated that 1-3% of adults experience this condition every year.
Tendinopathy of the Shoulder
Shoulder tendinopathy is an injury to the shoulder tendons, causing pain and swelling with impaired mobility. Tendinopathy may be due to inflammation or from tears in the tendon that arise from overuse, trauma, or osteoarthritis and degeneration. An increased age as well as occupations or exercises with frequent overhead activity confer a greater risk for developing shoulder tendinopathy.
Shoulder pain in general is one of the most frequently experienced joint/muscle conditions for adults, with up to two-thirds of individuals affected over their lifetime.
Low back pain and sacro-iliac pain are the most common musculoskeletal ailments reported in adults. This can include muscle spasms, sprains, strains, and osteoarthritis. Almost all individuals will experience back pain at least once in their life, and the symptoms can be debilitating. Back pain occurs more with advanced age, decreased physical fitness, increased weight and BMI, and certain repetitive stresses like heavy lifting or certain exercises.
What is Shockwave Therapy Like?
Shockwave therapy is actually a relatively simple process! Once your area of concern is located, gel is applied to the treatment area. The gel helps facilitate the transfer of energy from the device to your tissues. The device is then applied with gentle pressure to the treatment area to deliver acoustic waves.
There may be some minor discomfort associated with the treatment process, but pain is typically absent. The actual shockwave delivery process is relatively short and may only last for a few minutes! There is no set downtime with treatment, and you should be able to return to your normal daily activities in Florida. However, you may experience some soreness in the treatment area following the treatment.
When Will I See Results?
Results achieved with shockwave therapy will vary for each person and treatment area. Most people enjoy pain relief after just one treatment session, but results are cumulative and may be best achieved after a short series of treatments.
Contact Us Today!
If you’re experiencing any of the above ailments, or even some other muscle or joint pain, come on in for a consultation! Our office is conveniently located in Naples, FL, and we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas. Contact us today to book an appointment and get started. We look forward to hearing from you!