Shockwave therapy, also known as "ESWT" or "radial shockwave therapy", is a treatment—usually done over a handful of sessions—that treats patients who are suffering one or more chronic conditions, including Achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis. Shockwave therapy is a somewhat radical method for resolving certain kinds of injuries; however, although it is not fully understood, shockwave therapy has been given the green light by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of tennis elbow and plantar fasciitis. The procedure used to work by anaesthetising a patient for 30 minutes, but it can now be done in a physician's office in less than 10 minutes due to the uptake in portable technology, which has made the process much less of an ordeal for patients and physicians alike.
The shockwave therapy itself (when used for, say, a foot-related injury) uses a probe that is applied to the base of the heel, arch of the foot, or Achilles tendon, which is situated on the back of the heel. Very energetic acoustic waves pulse through the foot, which are intended to stimulate tissue regeneration and increase the flow of blood to the affected area. The process accelerates healing and can break down scar tissue.
In addition to the FDA approving such procedures, there have been numerous studies that have shown shockwave therapy to be very helpful. For example, shockwave therapy has been implemented to treat bone necrosis and facilitate bone healing; additionally, shockwave therapy has been used to treat tendon tears, tendinopathy, tendinitis, and ligament injuries. The international studies aim to further understand the science behind the excellent results garnered by shockwave therapy. Plus, because shockwave therapy doesn't require surgery, anesthesia, injections, or medication, it means that it is an extremely robust treatment plan.
Although the name might sound intimidating to some, most people don't feel any pain; however, while some people tend to feel a little bit of pain, this is usually just the remnant of the pre-existing injury, not the shockwave therapy itself. Best of all, there are practically no post-procedure side effects from shockwave therapy. In some very rare circumstances, the worst that will happen is some mild aching, tingling, or throbbing, but these symptoms are always minimal and short lived. The treatment is very useful for athletes or people with chronic injuries, and shockwave therapy has been proven to significantly reduce the amount of recovery time when compared to more traditional treatments.