Low energy shock wave therapy is a safe and effective technology that has been developed specifically to treat soft tissue and other problems. The history of how the shock wave phenomenon was recognized and how the technology was developed into one that was safe for use in medical applications is very interesting. We outline it briefly here.
Shock Wave Therapy History post World War II
The history of shock wave dates back to World War II. It was found that Submarines that had been attacked with depth charges were often structurally intact but contained critically injured crew members. The sailors were found to have severe injuries to their internal organs. It was concluded that sound waves from the explosions penetrated the walls of the submarine without damaging it and transferred their energy to the crew.
In the 1970s and 1980’s, the high energy produced by shock waves (which are in fact sound waves) was harnessed and equipment was developed to allow application to treat medical conditions. It was known as extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) and was used as a novel and noninvasive treatment to shatter kidney stones. In this application it was called “lithotripsy”.
Shock Wave Therapy History In The 90s
In the 1990’s, a low energy type of ESWT (as used by us) started to be successfully used to treat for painful tendon conditions (such as tennis elbow, patella tendinopathy and Achilles tendinopathy), plantar fasciitis, and calcific tendonitis of the shoulder. It has continued to be a very successful treatment option for these, sometimes very difficult to treat, conditions.
We have found shock wave therapy to be 70-80% successful for the treatment of various tendinopathies, in a wide range of patients; some of whom have had the condition for a number of years.