Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT), or Shockwave therapy, has been in use for a few decades and started with treatment of kidney stones. The use of this technology has spread to use in physical therapy for chronic—greater than 3 months—injuries and on trigger points.
The theory behind the use of this machine is 3 fold:
2) to reduce active trigger points;
3) to break-up tissue adhesions in the body
How it works
Shockwave therapy uses a mechanical impulse that is aimed at a dysfunctional tissue. The impulse is at a rapid rate and causes a disturbance in the tissue so the body can recognize the need to send in supporting cells and chemicals to heal the tissue.
Typical treatment time with shockwave is roughly 5 minutes. This therapy can be a bit uncomfortable at first, but the area typically reduces in irritation after 30 seconds. Afterwards the tissue may be red and a bit sore for a few hours; on occasion the tissue may feel sore into the next day. This is not a bad thing and the soreness should be of a different quality if it is present at all.
3 to 5 treatment sessions of shockwave are typically necessary to cause enough disturbances so the body can re-heal itself properly.
Matt Welsh, MScPT, Physiotherapist