Your doctor has referred you for a course of Radial Shockwave Therapy (RSWT).
This form of treatment was developed from other medical indications (treating kidney stones). It is widely used in Europe and North America for treatment of tendon and other soft tissue conditions. It has been used here in Melbourne for many years by AFL and other elite sporting teams and in other Sports Medicine clinics.
There are numerous published scientific studies, which you are free to examine, the majority of which demonstrate positive outcomes. Most importantly it has been demonstrated as a safe treatment option.
Radial shockwaves are high energy soundwaves transmitted from a probe held against and passing through the skin and spreading outwards into the underlying tissues. This is believed to induce increased blood flow and metabolic activity around the site of pain, accelerating the healing process. It can effectively reduce pain from this area to allow you to continue other rehabilitation exercises.
ABOUT THE TREATMENT:
After a simple examination of the affected area, shockwaves are applied via a handpiece held against the skin. The initial phase of treatment may cause some deep pain however this indicates correct targeting of the problem area. This is usually followed by numbness or heaviness in the area and the latter phase of the treatment feels less painful. The treatment sessions are of about 5 minutes duration during which you may receive up to 3000 pulses. Many patients get pain relief in just 8-10 days after the first treatment. For most conditions you will receive 3 treatments at weekly intervals, although for some conditions you may only require 1-2 treatments or, less commonly, 4 treatments.
AFTER THE TREATMENT:
You may feel some soreness, which may intensify on the night of treatment. Simple analgesia and icing may be required to control this pain. There may also be some minor bruising in the treatment area. You should rest from aggravating activities for 2-3 days after treatment, as your doctor will discuss.
Post-treatment pain: as above.
Local bruising: uncommon and minor.
Tendon rupture has not been reported following radial shockwave therapy, unlike cortisone injection and surgery.
Please inform your doctor if you have one of the following conditions, as this form of treatment may not be appropriate for you:
Bleeding and blood coagulation disorders, or blood-thinning medications.
Skin wound or acute inflammation in treatment area.
Tumour in treatment area.
$70 per treatment session (non-rebateable), plus the attendance/consultation fee from the doctor, which attracts a Medicare rebate.
Obviously the human body is a complex structure and like many things in medicine we can provide no guarantees of effectiveness of treatment. We can only keep up-to-date with the latest quality scientific research and make this available to you to make your decision. If you have any questions please feel free to discuss these with your doctor.