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Someone being treated using extracorporeal shockwave treatment Central Health Physiotherapy

What is Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)?

ESWT is an evidence-based procedure where audible high-energy soundwaves are passed through the skin to an injured tendon.

Historically shockwaves have been used in medicine to break down kidney stones. More recently in musculoskeletal medicine they are used to stimulate the metabolism and blood circulation to damaged tissue to encourage it to regenerate and heal.

What conditions can be treated with ESWT?

Most tendon problems throughout the body can be treated with ESWT, the most common are:

  • Plantar fasciitis/heel-pain
  • Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Patella Tendinopathy
  • Adductor Tendinopathy
  • Hamstring Tendinopathy
  • Glute Tendinopathy/Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome
  • De Quervains Tenosynovitis
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Golfers Elbow
  • Shoulder/Rotator Cuff Tendinopathies including Calcific Tendinitis

What does ESWT involve?

You will be asked to lie down on a plinth in a comfortable position. The  therapist will apply ultrasound gel to the treatment head and apply it to the painful tendon. The hand piece will then deliver compressed air pulses through the gel. The pressure you feel will be gradually increased until it is within a set-range taking into account your specific pain tolerance. The treatment will last for approximately 5 mins. Following this, your therapist may perform a second treatment using a larger treatment head to release tension in the muscles surrounding the painful tendon.

Why should I have ESWT?

ESWT speeds up the body’s natural healing process. It is minimally-invasive, done as an outpatient and is a realistic alternative to surgery. It can offer relief from pain and other symptoms. It can also be used in conjunction with your Physiotherapy treatment. 60-80% of patients report a significant improvement in their symptoms after 3 sessions of treatment.

How many treatments will I require?

You will usually require a course of 3-5 treatments should will be delivered 7-10 days apart.

Will my insurance cover ESWT?

Insurance companies including BUPA and AXA PPP will cover some sessions of ESWT. Contact them directly for more information and to get a pre-authorisation code for treatment.

If you are covered by another provider, you may wish to liaise with them to establish if they will fund ESWT.

What happens following ESWT?

You will be able to get up, leave the clinic and return to your normal activities immediately following the session. If you are experiencing an increase in pain, take some over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol but no anti-inflammatories. Refrain for high-intensity or aggravating activities for the first 48 hours. Your physiotherapist will advise you on when is best to resume your home exercise programme.

We accept self-referrals, referrals from physiotherapists and consultants/doctors.  For further information or to book an appointment, please email us or call 020 7404 6343.

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