Can Shockwave Therapy Treat a Long-Term Running Injury with Success?

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During the past decade, physicians have made considerable advances in treating serious running injuries. They continue to develop new treatment methods and therapeutic exercises. Today, doctors can successfully address various injuries that previously forced people to stop running.

Exercise Caution

Although many runners benefit from the latest treatments, these remedies aren’t equally effective. Some physicians promote questionable solutions that yield inconsistent or mediocre results. While a few studies may support these therapies, they’re often too small or imprecise. Scientists need to perform multiple comprehensive trials to confirm the efficacy of a treatment.

Shockwave Therapy

Doctors have extensively tested an intriguing new treatment called extracorporeal shockwave therapy. It benefits from the same powerful ultrasonic technology that physicians use to banish kidney stones and treat calcific tendonitis. Shockwaves eliminate tough calcium fragments before they turn into kidney stones.

Medical professionals eventually realized that ultrasonic waves might also help heal injured fascia or tendons. Chronic plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis and patellar tendonitis persist because the fascia or tendon fibers stop healing. By creating stress in damaged fibers, ultrasonic therapy causes the body to begin healing again.

Does it really work? Although they didn’t produce entirely positive results, the first trials offered hope. Doctors found that ESWT often helped people with various forms of tendonitis or fasciitis. However, these studies were relatively small and had significant flaws.

Patellar Tendonitis

More recent trials have confirmed ESWT’s ability to treat at least two conditions. Dutch researchers praised the therapy’s effectiveness in 2008. They determined that it helped three out of four patellar tendonitis patients and didn’t appear to cause any side effects.

  •  Low-risk treatment option
  •  Ideal energy level is unknown
  •  Benefits most patients

Achilles Tendonitis

This therapy seems to offer a less promising solution for runners with Achilles tendonitis. Some studies suggest that it can successfully treat the condition. However, other trials found it no better than a placebo. Physicians have yet to agree on optimal treatment techniques.

  •  Poor results in most studies
  •  More research is still needed
  •  Doctors haven’t ruled it out

Plantar Fasciitis

Medical researchers have discovered that ESWT treats plantar fasciitis far more successfully. Physicians arranged a large-scale trial in 2006. It involved patients who had long-term injuries that doctors failed to treat with conventional methods. Different people underwent fake or authentic shockwave treatments.

Researchers monitored the patients’ pain levels for about 90 days. They found that people experienced considerably less discomfort if doctors had provided them with genuine treatments. Unlike other remedies, ESWT didn’t trigger any side effects or complications. No participants suffered ill effects within 12 months.

Overall Efficacy

To sum it up, medical research generally supports ESWT as a desirable remedy for plantar fasciitis and patellar tendonitis. Its ability to treat Achilles tendonitis remains in doubt. While it won’t benefit everyone, this therapy doesn’t seem to cause any negative effects.

People with running injuries should consider shockwave therapy if conventional remedies don’t yield the desired results. Some physicians use different treatment techniques or energy levels than others. It’s important to choose an experienced, reputable doctor who has successfully treated fellow patients.