Shockwave Therapy

Dr. Charles Arndt and Dr. Debarun Borthakur at Active Lifestyle Medical VA in Sterling, Virginia, use Shockwave Therapy as part of their whole-patient treatment philosophy to improve the health and wellbeing of their patients. Officially called low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (Li-ESWT), the procedure is more commonly known as shockwave therapy.

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Historically, shockwaves were first used in medicine to break up kidney stones, so the stones could dissolve without surgical intervention. Since the 1990s, shockwave technology has been successful for treating the pain of injured tendons and speeding the healing process. It has found its place as a modern and highly effective treatment option in orthopedic and rehabilitation medicine.

Who can Benefit?

A fitting candidate for shockwave therapy has chronic (i.e. longer than six weeks) tendinopathies (usually called tendinitis) and any treatment they received has proven unsuccessful.

The following conditions could be caused by a sport, overuse, or repetitive strain:

  • Tennis Elbow
  • Achilles
  • Rotator cuff
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Jumper's knee
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Calcific tendinitis of the shoulder
Shockwave Therapy Sterling VA Consultation

How is therapy done?

Your therapist will discuss your symptoms with you and locate the source of pain. They will then mark the area intended for the Shockwave Therapy. A gel is applied to optimize the contact between the application device and your skin. The hand piece delivers pulsations to the pain area for a number of prescribed pulses, depending on the condition.

Does it hurt?

The treatment itself doesn’t hurt. Occasionally there is mild discomfort in the muscle for a day or two after. This occurs because the treatment works by causing micro-injury to the tissue. Most patients say they have few or no problems following treatment.

The energy waves stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms through microtrauma to the area. It triggers your own regenerative cells to come to the area and heal the tissue. It enhances vascularization and nerve regeneration as well.

How successful is the treatment?

Success Rates: 90% improvement was recorded for the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain) by the Journal of Orthopedic Research (2005). The same publication quotes a 77% success rate when treating Tennis Elbow with Radial Shockwave Therapy and other clinical studies have generally reported a success rate in excess of 75%. Nice (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) provided evidence to the NHS: NICE evidence for Shockwave.

Shockwave Therapy is FDA cleared for the treatment of acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain and connective tissue disorders; there are no known risks or complications.

Is shockwave therapy covered by insurance?

Shockwave therapy is an elective pay modality and is not covered by insurance.

Are there any contraindications with shockwave therapy?

Shockwave Therapy is not recommended for patients on blood thinners, those with malignancies, and those who are pregnant.

How many sessions do I need?

Shockwave treatment is often performed once a week for a period of 3-6 weeks, depending on Chronicity of the problem.

When will I see improvement from shockwave therapy?

Patients may begin to see improvement 4 weeks after their last treatment. More significant improvement often occurs 8-12 weeks after the last treatment.