What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy, also known as Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT), is a clinically proven and highly effective treatment for chronic soft tissue injuries and certain bone conditions, as recommended in the NICE guidelines.

An extracorporeal shockwave is defined as a non-invasive, non-electrical high energy sound wave that passes through the body via a hand-held probe. The shock waves produce a rapid increase in blood circulation to the target area and will break down fibrous scar tissue which builds up over time, as well triggering stem cell activation to stimulate a healing response. This is especially relevant with stubborn chronic conditions.

The break-down of scar tissue is the key to why shock wave therapy is so effective. Unlike normal elasticated tissue, scar tissue is non-elastic and will prevent normal movement and function, thereby weakening the unaffected tissue surrounding it, often causing further damage and pain. By increasing circulation and breaking down scar tissue, shockwave therapy will stimulate cell regeneration and promote normal healing and rapid reduction of pain. The normal function can then be restored.

To watch a video explaining how shockwave works just click the link below.


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 and restored normal function:

  • Plantar heel pain (plantar fasciitis/plantar fasciopathy)
  • Shoulder pain  (calcific lesions or tendinopathy of the rotator cuff)
  • Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Medial epicondylitis (golfer‘s elbow)
  • Patellar tendinopathy (jumper‘s knee)
  • Tibial stress syndrome (shin pain)
  • Achilles tendinopathy (achilles tendonitis)
  • Hip pain (greater trochanteric pain syndrome, trochanteric bursitis, lateral hip pain)
  • Heel pain, heel spurs
  • Chronic neck myofascial pain

How successful is Shockwave Therapy?

After only 3 or 4 treatments with shockwave therapy, over 80% of patients report a reduction of pain and regaining of normal function. More specifically the breakdown for the percentage of people reporting improvement by body part has been reported as follows:

  • 91% reduction in pain for calcific tendinopathy (Journal of American Medical Association, 2003)
  • 90% reduction in pain for plantarfasciitis (Journal of Orthopedic Research, 2005)
  • 86% reduction in pain for rotator cuff tendonitis (Journal of American Medical Association, 2003)
  • 80% reduction in pain for non-union fractures (Clinical Orthopedics and related research, 2001)
  • 77% reduction in pain for tennis elbow (The Journal of Orthopedics, 2005)
  • 75% reduction in pain for jumper’s Knee (patellar tendonitis) – (American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2007)
  • 75% reduction in pain for achilles tendinopathy (American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2007)

Research is growing for this cutting-edge technology, and the latest reports are confirming shockwave therapy is an effective treatment of soft tissue injuries, pain and certain bony conditions like heel spurs. The evidence shows that the most effective treatment is a combination of shockwave and loaded exercise therapy. It is no substitute for exercise therapy but a useful adjunct for those chronic conditions which are struggling to settle or for those wishing to get on top of the pain associated with these conditions before completing their rehabilitation.

When investing in advanced technology like shockwave therapy, it is important to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the equipment, as well as having the backing of evidenced-based research. Storz Medical are well known for their high standards of medical equipment and are leaders in the field of shockwave therapy. Our decision to invest in the Storz Medical Masterpuls.

Costs for treatment

As recommended in the clinical excellence guidelines, it often takes 3 or more treatments to resolve an issue. Patients are recommended to book 3 consecutive weekly sessions to gain the full effect of Shockwave Therapy. The shockwave package alone is available at a fee of £240 payable in advance by BACS or at your first appointment by card or cash.

Any further single treatment carried out by our Specialist Physiotherapist will be £80.

What can I expect during my consultation?

At your first visit, you will meet an experienced Specialist Sports and Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, who will discuss your symptoms and condition and decide whether Shockwave therapy is appropriate and help you to plan your treatment programme. This would be charged at our normal assessment fee.

If Shockwave therapy is appropriate you will be given pre-treatment information and your 15-minute sessions will be booked in. Shockwave treatment typically lasts for 10-15 minutes. Should your Physiotherapist feel Shockwave therapy is not appropriate for your condition, this will be explained and a normal consultation fee will be applied and alternative treatment will be recommended.

When used correctly, the side effects of shockwave therapy are minimal at most. The majority of patients experience a reduction in their pain. Occasionally some mild side effects can occur including:

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

Are there contraindications for Shockwave Therapy?

There are a few occasions when shockwave should not be used:

  • Pregnancy or trying to conceive
  • Treatment over air filled tissue (lung, gut)
  • Treatment of pre-ruptured tendons
  • Treatment for patients under 18 years
  • Treatment over metal pins or plates
  • Malignant tumors
  • Nerve or circulation disorders
  • Those with local or viral infections
  • If the patient is taking anticoagulants
  • Patients with blood clotting disorders

How do I go about enquiring or booking?

Simply give us a call and ask for an assessment with our specialist team on 0131 478 4646. If you wish to speak to a specialist physiotherapist we will give you a call to discuss the treatment.

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, prior authorisation must be gained before committing to any course of treatment and you will be expected to provide a claim number or reference when booking.

Give us a call on 0131 478 4646 to arrange a course of treatment or to speak to one of our shockwave therapists.

We now provide an even wider range of shockwave services:

For urological conditions such as Erectile Dysfunction (ED), Peyronies Disease and Prostatitis follow the link to our specialist shockwave service – Edinburgh Shockwave.