Preparing for Shockwave Therapy

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is an FDA approved innovative medical treatment offering non-invasive relief for chronic pain and various musculoskeletal ailments. In this article, you’ll discover what you need to know about shockwave therapy. From understanding the process to preparing for your first session, we’ll inform you of the benefits of shockwave therapy.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of shockwave therapy, schedule an appointment with Brotzman Sports Medicine in Austin, Texas, today!

S. Brent Brotzman, MD

Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialist located in Austin, TX

Related Services

How Does Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Work?

Shockwave therapy works by sending shockwaves deep into the affected tissues, targeting areas of pain and promoting healing. The shockwave therapy device emits high-energy sound waves that travel through the skin, delivering precise bursts of energy to the targeted area. These waves induce micro-stress or micro-tears in the tissue, triggering the healing process.

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy is being used to successfully treat conditions such as tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis.

Getting Ready for Shockwave Therapy

Before your first shockwave therapy session, you will need to schedule a consultation with Dr. Brotzman or Jennifer Tackett, PA-C, who both are experienced in shockwave therapy. During this consultation, we will assess your condition, discuss treatment options, and determine if shockwave therapy is suitable for you.

In preparation for your first shockwave therapy session, you will need to take the following steps:

  1. Avoid Pain Medications: You should stop taking pain-relieving medications, such as NSAIDs, around 2 weeks before your appointment. These medications can make you more prone to bleeding and bruising.
  2. Wear Comfortable Clothing: Dress in loose-fitting, comfortable clothing on the day of your appointment to ensure access to the treatment area.
  3. Arrive Early: Arrive at your appointment early to complete any necessary paperwork and allow yourself time to relax before the session begins.

What Happens During an ESWT Session?

Your first ESWT session will typically last between 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the location and severity of your condition. Here’s what to expect during the session:

  • Application of Gel: Your therapist will apply a special gel to the treatment area to facilitate the transmission of shockwaves into the skin.
  • Use of Shockwave Therapy Device: The shockwave therapy device will be positioned over the treatment area, and the therapist will administer the shockwaves using controlled pressure.
  • Sensation During Treatment: You may experience mild discomfort or a tingling sensation during the treatment.
  • Post-Treatment Care: After the session, you should do your best to limit physical activity for at least 4 weeks.

When is Shockwave Therapy Not Used?

Shockwave therapy should not be used in the following instances:

  • To treat lung tissue
  • Over an open growth plate in children
  • In patients who are hemophiliac or who are using blood thinning treatment
  • Over malignant tumors
  • Close to implanted heart valves and implanted cardiac stents
  • Directly on top of the cement-metal interface of a joint implant. Soft tissue problems around the arthroplasty are okay.

What to Expect After the Session

After receiving shockwave therapy, you may experience minimal soreness, discomfort, or bruising at the treatment site. These side effects typically resolve within a few days, but if prolonged or concerning symptoms persist, consult your doctor promptly. 

In our practice and in the literature, most patients actually report that their pain is significantly improved for several hours after the session.

You can resume regular activities post-treatment but refrain from high-impact or strenuous activity for 24 hours to facilitate optimal healing.

How Fast Does ESWT Work?

Many patients get immediate pain relief following their shockwave treatment session. Treatment for many conditions is usually improved within 2 or 3 treatments and resolves over a 6 to 12-week period. ESWT initiates its therapeutic effects immediately after the first treatment, offering a rapid and effective solution for various musculoskeletal conditions.

The Benefits of ESWT

One of the primary benefits of shockwave therapy is its ability to provide immediate pain relief for many patients. By stimulating the body’s natural healing response, shockwave therapy can help reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and promote tissue regeneration, leading to long-term relief from chronic pain and discomfort.

In addition to immediate pain relief, shockwave therapy offers several long-term benefits, including:

  1. Accelerated Healing: By promoting tissue regeneration and robust new angiogenesis (new blood vessel regeneration), shockwave therapy greatly accelerates and enhances the healing process, dramatically reducing recovery time and allowing you to return to normal activities sooner.
  2. Non-Invasive Treatment Option: Unlike surgery or invasive procedures, shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that carries minimal risk of complications and requires no downtime.
  3. Cost-Effective: Compared to other medical treatments, shockwave therapy is a cost-effective option for managing chronic pain and musculoskeletal conditions, offering significant savings in healthcare costs over time.

Key Takeaways

There are 2 different types of musculoskeletal shockwave therapy. The key takeaways about ESWT include the following:

  • Before Shockwave Therapy: Consult a sports medicine doctor, like S. Brent Brotzman, MD, who specializes in the treatment to determine your suitability. Avoid NSAIDs post-procedure if possible, wear loose clothing, and arrive early for paperwork.
  • During Shockwave Therapy: Sessions last 10 to 15 minutes. You may have some mild discomfort.
  • Post-Treatment: You may have some discomfort for a few days. Limit activity for two weeks after the session.
  • Effectiveness: Shockwave therapy provides immediate pain relief. Conditions typically start to improve in 2-3 sessions and subsequently resolve over 6-12 weeks.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Experience the transformative benefits of shockwave therapy with Brotzman Sports Medicine in Austin, Texas. Our dedicated team specializes in providing personalized care and effective treatment for various musculoskeletal conditions.

With our state-of-the-art equipment and expertise, we offer non-invasive relief and immediate pain reduction, helping you regain mobility and enhance your overall quality of life. Contact us today to schedule your first shockwave therapy session!

Medically reviewed by
S. Brent Brotzman, MD


Words from our patients