Shockwave therapy (ESWT)

About shockwave therapy (ESWT) and how it can help long-standing tendon pain.

What is shockwave therapy

Shockwave therapy or Extra Corporal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a non-surgical, non-invasive treatment for longstanding tendon pain. It is most effective when combined with a progressive exercise programme to gradually strengthen the local and supporting muscle groups.

What can be treated

The best available evidence is related to the use of shockwave therapy for:

  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Patella tendinopathy
  • Gluteal tendinopathy
  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Hamstring tendinopathy

What happens during shockwave therapy treatment

Your physiotherapist will place a hand-held device on the skin with some water-based gel in between the probe and the area to be treated.  

You will be able to hear the acoustic sound waves, and you will also feel a little discomfort as it targets the injured zone. 

Your therapist is able to control the intensity of the treatment at all times and will modify the settings to ensure you are comfortable.  

As your tolerance increases, the intensity of the impulses can be increased.

Is shockwave therapy safe

Yes, when performed by qualified therapists it is largely risk free. Its use is supported by the National Institute for clinical excellence (NICE) and has very few contraindications. It is non-invasive, does not involve any medication or require anaesthesia and clinical benefits are often seen 6-8 weeks after the first treatment.

Is shockwave therapy clinically proven

Absolutely! Shockwave therapy is clinically proven and well approved of by the top orthopaedic hospitals, and used by well-established professional sports bodies including:

  • National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE)
  • English Institute of Sport
  • UK Athletics
  • Welsh Rugby Union
  • Premier League Football Clubs

There is a large body of evidence, which is continually growing, that supports shockwave therapy as a safe, non-invasive treatment modality, with studies reporting success rates of 70% for tendinopathies. Shockwave therapy has been found to significantly reduce the pain that accompanies tendon injuries and improves functionality and quality of life.

Cost of shockwave therapy

Sessions are best conducted at one to two week intervals - your therapist will advise you how many sessions you will need. Some conditions may only need three sessions, but most will require five.

  • Course of 5 sessions £375 
  • Course of 3 sessions £230

Often a patient will start to feel the benefit after the initial session but the real strength in shockwave therapy is in its medium to long term results, with significant clinical benefit often seen 6-8 weeks after treatment.  

It is important to note that ESWT is not ideally used in isolation. For optimum results and to maintain the fantastic effects of treatment in the longer term, a specific rehabilitation plan for your problem will be put together by our physiotherapy team to help get you back to full fitness and address the issues that may have contributed to the problem in the first instance. 

Next steps

If you have longstanding tendon pain and previous treatment has failed to resolve it, contact our team to book an appointment and find out how shockwave therapy can help you.