Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy, (or ESWT), is a new technology using shockwaves to treat chronic, painful conditions of the musculoskeletal system. A shockwave is an intense, but very short energy wave traveling faster than the speed of sound. The word “Extra-corporeal” means “outside the body” and refers to the fact that the shockwaves are generated outside the body.
The basic science behind ESWT is analogous to lithotripsy, the technology that uses acoustic shockwaves to break up kidney stones without surgery. The technique of using shockwaves to break up kidney stones has been around for a nearly a quarter century now, and in the process of treating thousands and thousands of patients, it was found that many people undergoing the procedure had other unrelated aches and pains disappear. It was at this point that scientists began to consider that shockwaves may have an effect to heal other sorts of tissues.
Specialized machines were then developed specifically with the idea of using these shockwaves on other parts of the body, and this is the origin of ESWT. The type of shockwave therapy we use, then, is specialized to specifically help treat musculoskeletal conditions.
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