Shock Wave Therapy

Shock Wave Therapy

Suffering from chronic or persistent heel or tendon pain? Try Shock Wave Therapy at Epsom Footcare.

Radial Shock Wave Therapy (RSWT)

Shock waves are movements of extremely high pressure caused by, for example, an explosion, an earthquake or a plane breaking the sound barrier.

Radial Shock Wave Therapy (RSWT) is the application of shock waves in medicine.

What is it?

Shock Wave is a non-invasive treatment in which a device is used to pass acoustic shock waves at a set frequency through the skin to the affected area. It is purely a mechanical wave, not an electric one. Shock Wave is an accepted intervention in the UK and treatment may provide pain relief for chronic tendon fascia and muscle problems.

How does it work?

The treatment initiates a pro inflammatory response in the affected tissue that is being treated. The body responds by increasing the blood circulation and metabolism in the affected area which accelerates the body’s own healing processes. The shock waves can break down injured tissues and calcifications.

As a result of cellular tissue micro-trauma metabolic reactions are stimulated which can produce:

    • a reduction of pain felt by nerve fibres
    • an increase of blood circulation in surrounding soft tissues
    • stem cell activation triggering the healing process

How is Shock Wave delivered?

The painful area is located by palpation. The treatment is delivered via a compressed air impulse through a hand held piece attached to the Shock Wave machine. The shock wave radiates out through the head into the affected area.  Contact gel will be applied to the skin to improve the transmission of the shock wave.

Shock Wave is used to treat a range of chronic lower limb conditions such as plantar fasciopathy, insertional and mid-body achilles tendinopathy, patella tendinopathy, medial tibial stress syndrome and greater trochanteric pain syndrome.

Plantar Fasciopathy

Achilles Tendinopathy

Patella Tendinopathy

Gluteal Tendinopathy

Why choose Shock Wave?

Shock Wave therapy stimulates and supports the body’s self-healing mechanisms and is a non-invasive treatment modality. There are no medications such as cortisone or surgery involved. There are no major safety concerns associated with Shock Wave. It is common to have some immediate pain relief and studies have shown positive outcomes in approximately 70% of cases. It is recognised by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for the management of tendon, fascia and soft tissue problems.

Shock Wave has been found to bring relief in most patients after just a few treatment sessions, even in patients suffering from chronic pain. It is a non-invasive therapy that activates a self-healing process where pain occurs and achieves significant results.

When performed properly, Shock Wave has only minimal risks.Typical device related non-serious adverse events are:

      • Pain and discomfort during and after treatment – anaesthesia is not necessary
      • Reddening of the skin
      • Petechia – small red spots caused by minor capillary bleeding
      • Swelling and numbness of the skin over the treatment area
      • These usually disappear within 36 hours after the treatment.

How long does the treatment session last?

It takes 3-4 minutes to deliver a set 2500 impulses of shock wave energy and you must attend for 3 sessions over 3 consecutive weeks.

Is Shock Wave treatment painful?

The treatment itself can be painful during the application of Shock Wave. The treatment is delivered according to patient response. If a patient is unable to tolerate the pain levels the settings will be adjusted to reduce the discomfort. A mild ache may occur later that day but should pass after a day. A patient may therefore take analgesic pain relief afterwards if required or before attending their next session.

Shock Wave cannot be used:

      • To treat previously ruptured tendons
      • During pregnancy
      • In patients under the age of 18 years (except when treating Osgood-Schlatter disease and muscular dysfunction in children with spastic movement disorders)
      • Where the patient has blood clotting disorders including local thrombosis
      • In patients being treated with oral anti-coagulants (aspirin, warfarin, clopidogrel etc.)
      • Over local tumours, bacterial and/or viral infections
      • Within 3 months of a cortisone injection into/around the injured tissue

What to do following the treatment?

There are no restrictions after the treatment session- you may continue with your normal activities. You may use simple painkillers if still in pain. Do not use anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen/Voltarol or use ice on the treated area as both will affect the body’s inflammatory and healing process stimulated by the shock wave treatment. Pain relief may be felt immediately but long term effects are normally seen after 3 months.  All patients will be reviewed 6-12 weeks after completing the course of shock wave treatment.