At Propel Physiotherapy, we often recommend our clients try shockwave therapy for lateral epicondylitis. Due to its low-intensity nature, treatment can be observed with little, to no, side effects.
Shockwave Therapy is a non-invasive therapeutic device that works by delivering acoustic waves to the site of injury. The machine uses kinetic energy to reach the target area via a small applicator at the head of the SWT handle. This energy penetrates the skin sending a radial wave as deep as 7 centimetres into the body, with the highest pressure felt at the surface of the body.
What is Lateral Epicondylitis?
Lateral epicondylitis is a condition of the elbow caused by repetitive stress and movements of the arm, also knows as tennis elbow. The pain is caused by inflamed tendons on the outside of your elbow, where your forearm muscle attaches to bone.
Symptoms and Risk Factors of Lateral Epicondylitis
Common symptoms include weak grip strength and pain/burning on the outside of your elbow, it also onsets gradually, so weeks or months can pass before pain is felt. Pain most often occurs in the dominant arm, but also can occur on the non-dominant side.
Lateral Epicondylitis Treatment
Conservative treatment for lateral epicondylitis includes rest and pain medications. However, shockwave therapy has been up and coming as a beneficial treatment for epicondylitis.
In a study by Xiong et al., 2019,they researched the efficacy of SWTT on lateral epicondylitis in a review of published literature. In the studies used, when comparing SWTT to a cortico-steroid injection, SWTT was better at decreasing pain on a subjective scale of 0-10 (Xiong et al., 2019). This same study also found long-term benefits of pain being decreased at a 12-week follow-up, as well as improved grip strength over long-term scales when compared to the injection (Xiong et al., 2019).
Another study found similar long-term beneficial effects of SWTT, noting that at 3-, 6- and 9-month follow ups, there was a significant decrease in reported pain of clients (Bilge et al., 2019). As a non-invasive therapy, shockwave therapy can be beneficial in both short- and long-term relief associated with lateral epicondylitis.
As a non-invasive treatment to supplement a physical therapy program, shockwave therapy for lateral epicondylitis is a great option. Shockwave therapy can be effective for all kinds of injuries, both chronic and acute. Most commonly, we treat conditions like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy using shockwave therapy at Propel Physiotherapy. Talk to us about treatment options for you.
Bilge, A., & Aydın, C. G. (2019). Comparison of Ozone and Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy in the Treatment of Chronic Lateral Epicondylitis. İstanbul Kanuni Sultan Süleyman Tıp Dergisi. doi: 10.5222/iksstd.2019.04706.
Xiong, Y., Xue, H., Zhou, W., Sun, Y., Liu, Y., Wu, Q., … Liu, G. (2019). Shock-wave therapy versus corticosteroid injection on lateral epicondylitis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 47(3), 284–289. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2019.1599587
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