shockwave - eswt

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)

What is ESWT?

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy, or ESWT, is a non-invasive method of treating certain soft tissue injuries. It has been used in Singapore and other parts of the world since the early 1990’s. ESWT evolved from Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL), where shock waves are used to break down kidney stones. In ESWT, lower energy levels are used in Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic conditions to trigger an individual’s own repair mechanisms.


The most common indication for ESWT is plantar faciitis (heel spur). Other indications include tennis and golfer’s elbow, patellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee), supraspinatus tendinitis (in the shoulder), and Achilles enthesiopathy.

What is a ‘Shock Wave’?

A ‘Shock wave’ is a pulsed acoustic wave that delivers a sudden high pressure to a targeted area, followed by a negative pressure. ‘Extracorporeal’ means that the shock wave is delivered from outside the body.

How do Shock Waves Heal an lnjury?

Based on current knowledge, it is thought that the shock waves:

  1. Over-stimulate pain transmission nerves. This leads to an immediate reduction in pain and sensitivity.
  2. Trigger the body’s repair mechanism. One of the manifestations of this is the gradual formation of new blood vessels in the targeted area. As a result, the recovery and pain relief is felt progressively by patients over the next 3 to 6 months.

What does the Treatment Involve?

The course of treatment involves outpatient sessions that are spaced a week apart. Before each session, avoid heavy meals (light meals are fine). Wear clothes that will allow the injured area to be exposed easily. Inform your doctor of your medical conditions or pregnancy.

During each session, you will be positioned comfortably on an examination table. A scanner is used to accurately guide the shock wave emitter to the injury site. About 2000 shock waves will then be ‘fired’ over a ‘tapping’ sensation with each shock wave.

You can resume your normal daily activities immediately after each treatment. Aggravating activities (e.g. running in the case of heel spurs) should be avoided until a week or more after the second ESWT session.

Are there any Adverse Effects?

The shock waves may be painful but on the whole it is tolerable. As a routine, the energy levels are increased progressively and titrated to the individual’s pain tolerance. Rarely, minor bruising may develop, but this is transient and harmless.

How do I Get Access to ESWT?

You will need to see Dr Kevin Yip at Singapore Sports and Orthopedic Clinic first to confirm the diagnosis and decide if ESWT is indicated.

How do I Make an Appointment?

For enquiries or appointment to see doctor Kevin Yip at Singapore Sports and Orthopaedic Clinic, please call Tel: +65 3135 1327 (24 hrs)

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