What’s New in Foot & Ankle Surgery?
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy
What is extracorporeal shock wave therapy?
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is a non-invasive treatment procedure that uses high-energy shock waves to deliver a mechanical force to injured body tissues triggering the healing process.
What conditions can be treated by extracorporeal shock wave therapy?
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is used to treat painful musculoskeletal conditions such as:
- Degenerated tendons (Achilles tendonitis)
- Heel pain (plantar fasciitis)
- Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
What are the contraindications for extracorporeal shock wave therapy?
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is contraindicated in patients with:
- Poor sensation (neuropathy)
- Target area hypersensitivity
- Open sores
- Heart conditions
How is extracorporeal shock wave therapy performed?
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy can be performed as an outpatient procedure. A gel is applied on the skin to improve the conduction of shock waves to the deeper tissues. A non-invasive probe is then placed on the target area. The shock waves are then transmitted through the probe to the body tissues. They may be high energy or low energy shock waves. High energy waves can cause pain and a local anaesthetic is usually administered prior to probe application. For low energy waves, no anaesthetic is necessary. The patient can actively participate during the procedure by guiding the placement of the probe to the point of the pain. More than one treatment session may be required to produce relief of symptoms.
What are the post-procedure restrictions following extracorporeal shock wave therapy?
Patients are usually allowed to bear weight following the procedure; however, they are advised to reduce their activity level for 1 or 2 weeks.
What are the benefits of extracorporeal shock wave therapy?
Patients generally get good relief from longstanding tendon problems or degenerative conditions such as Achilles tendon and plantar fasciitis. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy can also be used to delay or avoid surgery.
What are the potential complications of extracorporeal shock wave therapy?
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is a very safe, non-invasive procedure; however, on rare occasions there may be pain and swelling at the treatment site. There may also be persistence of symptoms if the treatment is unsuccessful.