Patient Information Sheet
Extra Corporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)
ESWT is a relatively new treatment for tendon, ligament and bone problems. There are many tendons and ligaments in the body and they can become painful and swollen. We do not always understand why this happens but we do know it is difficult to treat.
The underlying problem is that the damaged tissue is not healing up properly. First line treatment is physiotherapy to stimulate healing but this is not always successful. ESWT are shockwaves direct at the damaged tendon or ligament. These shockwaves perform two functions. Firstly they stimulate the tissue to repair itself and secondly they numb the pain nerves to reduce discomfort. The procedure has good evidence to back it up but is subject to ongoing evaluation.
The treatment is performed in the clinic by the doctor. A probe is placed on the skin at the site of the problem. Some water based gel is used to improve contact with the skin. Shockwave pulses are sent down the probe to the tendon. The machine is a little bit noisy and the procedure may be slightly uncomfortable. You will be able to talk to the doctor throughout and you will be asked how you are feeling. The doctor will adjust the machine during the procedure to maximise its effectiveness. At any time you can ask for a rest or to stop completely if necessary.
Each treatment takes about 10 minutes. This can be done in one long go or in short bursts; it makes no difference. Treatment is delivered four times in total spaced 7 days apart. It does not matter if treatment is spaced out a bit more but should not be repeated before 7 days. After each treatment you might experience numbness, increased discomfort, redness or bruising. None of these are serious and will settle. If there is still a lot of bruising the next treatment should be delayed until it resolves.
You should not have the treatment if you are pregnant. Please inform the doctor if you have a pacemaker or an artificial joint or are taking blood thinners.
At the moment there is no Medicare rebate for ESWT so there is a charge of $110 per treatment in addition to the usual doctor’s consultation fees.
Common conditions suitable for ESWT:-
Plantar fascitis, Achilles tendinosis, medial tibial stress syndrome, patellar tendinosis, quadriceps expansion tendinosis, trochanteric pain syndrome, hamstring tendinosis (prox & distal), rotator cuff tendinosis & calcific tendinitis, frozen shoulder medial & lateral epicondylosis, bone pain post fracture/stress fracture.