According to the Office for National Statistics, back pain affects millions of people in the UK and results in around 30 million days of work being lost each year. It’s a problem which affects most people at some point in their lives. For many, the pain is short-lived. However, some sufferers endure ongoing problems with back pain that last months or years, seriously impacting on their lives and careers.

How can ESWT be used to treat back pain?

Back pain sufferers are now able to access a new treatment that can help provide relief from pain and help avoid surgery or use of long-term painkillers.

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Treatment (ESWT) is a non-invasive procedure that can help heal tendons and ligaments, which can often be the cause of back pain. The treatment takes only a few minutes to administer and there’s no need for an anesthetic. Nor is the treatment considered painful; people who undergo ESWT often report feeling a slight pummelling sensation in the small of the back.

ESWT works by firing shockwaves in tissue at the rate of ten per second. These reach damaged ligament and encourage it to heal itself. Essentially it’s a way to kick-start the body’s own healing process, leading it to naturally heal over the course of several months when the course of treatment is complete.

How effective is ESWT at treating back pain?

The good news is that ESWT therapy can offer some immediate relief from back pain due to the numbing effect it has on the nerves. Patients will normally return for a second and third treatment at weekly intervals. Some back pain patients report a noticeable decrease in pain after each session, and success rates of up to 80% have been reported.

When is ESWT an appropriate treatment?

ESWT isn’t suitable for all types of back pain, such as back pain during pregnancy. Because it’s a therapy designed to treat ligament and tendon damage, it can’t help with skeletal problems although it can help with some bone conditions such as slow healing bone. Clinicians will often advise patients combine ESWT with a course of therapeutic exercise to maximise their recovery from back pain.

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