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Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) To Cure Osteoarthritis

Author: Saroni Asikin from Suara Merdeka Newspaper (2 May 2004, Sunday).
Translated into English by Silvan S. Prayogo, BSc., MSc.


Pain and inflammation on shoulder joint, knee joint, elbow, or hESWT to cure osteoarthritiseel are common complaints for many people. These are symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA), which is suffered by more than 20 million people in the United States of America. The pain caused by osteoarthritis interferes your daily activity.

The illness is initiated by a damage on cartilage bone that wraps around a joint which leads to pain and stiffness on the affected joint. This condition could also be caused by inflammation or calcification on certain part of the joint which causes pain on knees or heels. Other causes of osteoarthritis are inflammation, trauma, ageing, or side effects of stroke and diabetes.

Osteoarthritis affects bone cartilages that cover the ends of bones where the joints are. There is no solid evidence as to what causes osteoarthritis. Experts believe that a joint problem is caused by mechanical stress (stretch and relax). Mechanical stress damages the bone cartilage at the joints and signals your body to release chemical substances that stimulate new bone formation. As a result, an uneven, solid and thick new bone around the joint is formed or known as calcification. Calcification affects tissues around the joint and painful.

Osteoarthritis is traditionally treated with anti-inflammation medication, steroid injection, physiotherapy, ice treatment, or surgery. Unfortunately, these treatments  are only 50% effective. "These treatments don't cure osteoarthritis effectively and usually have unwanted side effects", explains dr. Andrea S who is the expert in medical rehabilitation at Mitra Laboratory Clinic in Jl. Stadion Selatan 11, Semarang, Indonesia.

So, what is the most effective treatment for osteoarthritis without side effect? The best solution is an externally-emitted shock wave therapy or commonly known as extracorporeal shock waves therapy (ESWT). ESWT was invented by Domier Med Tech, a medical company in Atlanta, U.S.A. ESWT has been used many times by Mitra laboratory clinic to treat osteoarthritis.

The application of ESWT
The instrument was originally invented to destroy kidney stones. Further research and clinical trials, however, suggest that the instrument can also treat orthopedics. If the externally-emitted shock waves could break kidney stones, then, it should also be able to break the solid bony structure around the joint that causes pain.

Many medical / health experts acknowledge ESWT effectiveness. One of them is George Theodore MD, an orthopedic from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, U.S.A. "Many patients were treated with ESWT and they were cured within a short period of time", says he.

ESWT was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of U.S.A in 2001 to treat pain on heels and muscles. FDA recommends ESWT for  patients who are in pains for months without any signs of improvements. ESWT has been used ten years ago in Germany, Europe.

In 2000, Mitra laboratory clinic did ESWT clinical trial on patients who suffer pain on their knees. ESWT were done on them three times a week. Significant improvement was achieved without any side effects. Therefore, the effectiveness and safety of ESWT was proven.

Dr. Andrea S explains that ESWT increases the patient's threshold of pain. Therefore, ESWT-treated patients does not easily feel pain around the joint anymore. The treatment also improves blood circulation and reduces inflammation (counterirritant effect).

"ESWT-treated patient does not have to be hospitalized or stay in a patient ward overnight). Patient can continue with whatever activities he/she has after ESWT. Furthermore, the effectiveness of ESWT  lasts for many years. Therefore, frequent repetition of ESWT is unnecessary," says dr. Andrea S.

ESWT is a simple procedure. Roentgen photography must be performed on the patient before ESWT to identify the affected joints. Each session of ESWT runs approximately 30 to 45 minutes. "The number of therapy depends on the severity of the patient's condition. However, maximum recovery is usually achieved after two to three therapies", explains dr. Andrea S.

Osteoarthritis may affect anyone and ESWT therapy can be the most effective treatment for osteoarthritis. People over 45 years old are at higher risk to suffer bone inflammation and calcification. Other factors such as genetic, trauma to joints, and obesity also contribute to osteoarthritis.

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