What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy, also known as Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT), is a clinically proven and effective treatment for chronic or persistent soft tissue injuries.

An extracorporeal shockwave is defined as a non-invasive, non-electrical high energy wave that passes through the body via a hand-held probe. The thinking is that shock waves produce a rapid increase in blood circulation to the target area to stimulate a healing response, and importantly provides a period of reduced pain in the area. This is often used to facilitate tendon loading programmes by making them more tolerable. This is especially relevant with stubborn, chronic conditions, including where tendons haven’t responded to conventional loading programmes.

What does Shockwave Therapy treat?

Shockwave therapy can be effective for a wide range of soft tissue and bony conditions. Here are some examples of conditions where shock wave has effectively treated:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • High hamstring tendinopathy
  • Shoulder pain, e.g. calcific tendinopathy of the rotator cuff
  • Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Medial epicondylitis (golfer‘s elbow)
  • Patellar tendinopathy (jumper‘s knee)
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Hip pain (greater trochanteric pain syndrome)

How successful is Shockwave Therapy?

Up to 90% of patients report a reduction of pain after 3 sessions and improvement of normal function. It is widely used in musculoskeletal and sports injury clinics both privately and sometimes in the NHS.

Research is growing for this emerging technology, and the latest reports are confirming shockwave therapy is an effective treatment of soft tissue injuries, pain and even certain bony conditions like heel spurs. The evidence shows that the most effective treatment is a combination of shockwave and loaded exercise therapy.

NICE Guidance

Here’s a link to the NICE guidelines: https://www.nice.org.uk/search?q=shockwave 

Costs for treatment

As recommended in the clinical excellence guidelines, it often takes 3 or more treatments to resolve an issue. Patients will be asked to book 3 consecutive weekly sessions as a package. This will be a one-off amount for the package and will cost £285 for self-funders. Their physiotherapist will also discuss with the patient the approrpiate loading exercises that should accompany the treatment (usually carried out the first 48 hours after the shockwave).

One-off shockwave are not currently offered but this will be under review. 

What to say to patients?

Shockwave treatment typically lasts for 10-15 minutes. It is not normally painful but discomfort over the area being treated is quite normal and not a concern

When used correctly, side effects from shockwave therapy are minimal and uncommon. The majority of patients experience a reduction in their pain by the end of the session. Occasionally some mild side effects can occur including:

  • A mild ache which may last 36 hours. 
  • Petechia (tiny, non-raised patches on the skin)
  • Redness over the site treated
  • Swelling/numbness over the area treated

Are there patients who can’t have Shockwave Therapy?

There are a few occasions when shockwave should not be used. Your physiotherapist will make sure this is assessed at the initial consultation and that shockwave is deemed appropriate.

How do I enquire or make a booking?

To make a booking you will first need to make an initial assessment, either via our website, or via the bookings line 01235 313595 to see one of our Chartered Physiotherapists. They will discuss your condition and decide whether Shockwave therapy is appropriate for you. If you are already under the care of one of our physiotherapists, please discuss your suitability in your next consultation. 

If you’re not sure and would like to speak to one of the physiotherapists, please email info@flexphysiopractice.com and leave your contact details so that one of the team can give you a free call back to discuss it.

Will my private health insurance cover this?

Shockwave treatment is covered by most major insurers. Please contact your insurance company to see whether you are covered on you plan.

Please note, as with all insurance claims, authorisation must be gained before committing to any course of treatment and you will be expected to provide a claim number when booking.