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What Does the Research Say About Shockwave Therapy for Chronic Tendinopathies?

Shockwave therapy

Shockwave therapy has been studied for its effectiveness in treating chronic tendinopathies, including conditions such as Achilles tendinopathy, patellar tendinopathy (jumper's knee), and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). Here's a summary of the evidence supporting its use:

  • Clinical Trials: Numerous clinical trials have investigated the efficacy of shockwave therapy for chronic tendinopathies. While results have been mixed across different studies and conditions, many trials have reported positive outcomes, including pain reduction, improved function, and tendon healing.

  • Meta-Analyses: Meta-analyses pooling data from multiple clinical trials have provided further insight into the effectiveness of shockwave therapy for chronic tendinopathies. Several meta-analyses have shown statistically significant improvements in pain and function following shockwave therapy compared to control treatments or placebo.

  • Long-Term Follow-Up: Some studies have assessed the long-term effects of shockwave therapy for chronic tendinopathies. While results vary, many patients experience sustained improvements in pain and function even months after completing treatment.

  • Comparative Effectiveness: Shockwave therapy has been compared to other treatment modalities for chronic tendinopathies, such as physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, and surgery. While findings vary, some studies have suggested that shockwave therapy may be as effective as or superior to these other interventions in certain cases.

  • Mechanisms of Action: The mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of shockwave therapy for chronic tendinopathies are still being elucidated. However, it's believed that shockwaves stimulate tissue repair processes, promote neovascularisation (formation of new blood vessels), and modulate pain perception, among other effects.

  • Guidelines and Recommendations: Some clinical guidelines, such as those from the International Society for Medical Shockwave Treatment (ISMST), recommend shockwave therapy as a treatment option for chronic tendinopathies when conservative measures have failed. However, the specific recommendations may vary depending on the condition being treated and the severity of symptoms.

  • Adverse Effects: While shockwave therapy is generally considered safe, it can cause mild side effects such as temporary discomfort, bruising, or swelling at the treatment site. Serious complications are rare but can occur, particularly if the treatment is administered improperly.


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