Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) for Patellar Tendonitis

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT), also known simply as Shockwave Therapy or Shockwave, was initially developed to treat kidney stones: extremely high-energy ultrasound was emitted by a specialized generator and used to break up these calcium deposits. Soon, however, physicians realized that Shockwave could be used to treat many chronic injuries of the musculoskeletal system—stubborn conditions of the joints, ligaments, and tendons regarded as resistant to treatment.

To date, ESWT has been used to treat various forms or tendinitis, bursitis, and avascular necrosis (AVN) in sites ranging from the mandible of the jaw to the talus of the ankle—literally head to foot. These conditions are all largely over-use injuries to soft tissue structures, and they have several things in common: chronic inflammation, incomplete healing, and sometimes an inadequate blood supply.

Here’s where Shockwave comes in. By using the ultra high-energy ultrasound mentioned above, a carefully controlled amount of stress could be delivered to the injured areas. This restarts the body’s natural repair response. Think of it as a jump-start to the healing process which can then lead to complete healing.

A 2008 research study from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) looked at the data from seven controlled trials of Shockwave Therapy for use in treating patellar tendonitis. Their findings were overwhelmingly positive: the team concluded that about 75% of patellar tendonitis cases saw significant improvement with ESWT treatment. This figure becomes even more impressive when considering that Shockwave Therapy is non-invasive and has few (if any) side effects.

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Patellar Tendonitis FAQs:

What is patellar tendonitis?

Tendonitis is the medical term used to describe chronic inflammation of a tendon, and tendons are the tough, fibrous bands which connect muscles to bones. In this case, the large oval tendon which connects the kneecap (patella) to the shin bone (tibia) becomes inflamed over time with continuous use. This tendon is vital to overall lower extremity function as it allows extension of the leg which is an essential part of running, jumping, kicking a soccer ball, or even walking. Many of our patients with patellar tendonitis ESWT in New York are runners or other atheletes. Not surprisingly, this condition is commonly known as jumper’s knee, as jumping sports like basketball put great stress on the patellar tendon.

What causes patellar tendonitis?

Athletes experience this form of tendonitis most often, but in reality anyone who regularly walks can get it—our New York ESWT patellar tendonitis patients range from postal workers to marathoners. As with tendonitis in other areas, chronic stress leads to chronic inflammation, resulting in pain. Note that since practically no patients simply stop walking, patellar tendonitis is somewhat resistant to treatment because this tendon is under relatively constant use, rarely receiving enough downtime for proper healing.

What are the symptoms?

These symptoms are found in almost all cases of patellar tendonitis. It is extremely common and usually mild, but several of our Cranberry ESWT patellar tendonitis patients experienced enough pain over a long enough period to require a higher level of treatment than NSAIDs, physical therapy, and stretching.

  • Pain directly below the kneecap
  • Almost always worse with weight bearing activities such as walking, running, and jumping.
  • Is especially painful when getting up from a kneeling or sitting position (moving the knee from fully bent to standing).

Who gets this condition?

Practically anyone, but patellar tendonitis is much more common in athletes and those with physically demanding jobs. A sizeable fraction of our Pittsburgh patellar tendonitis ESWT patients are runners.

How is patellar tendonitis usually treated?

Regardless of how severe the pain resulting from this form of tendonitis may get, surgery is almost never an option. This is due to the fact that the tendon’ structure usually isn’t altered in a manner that’s surgically correctible—surgically speaking, there’s nothing to fix. First line treatment includes over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, naproxen, and Tylenol (NSAIDs) and physical therapy. This doesn’t always work, and when symptoms recur the next step is usually cortisone injections. Our Bridgewater patellar tendonitis ESWT patients have commonly had two or more cortisone injections without lasting relief.

How can ESWT be used to treat this condition without surgery?

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is an excellent treatment for most forms of tendonitis, including patellar tendonitis—it’s unique, in fact. Remember that tendonitis is a chronic inflammation based condition characterized by incomplete healing and inadequate circulation. To date, Shockwave Therapy is the only treatment recognized to cause an effect called neo-vascularization (the formation of many new capillary arteries in the area). ESWT effectively uses high-intensity ultrasound energy to “jump-start” the healing process.

Sound Medical Technologies, Inc. owns and operates some of the rare mobile Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (“ESWT” ) machines in Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. We understand the importance of sensible and effective practice management. Our company is devoted to making ESWT convenient and easy to perform within your office or facility setting. We operate FDA approved Dornier Epos Ultra’s which are ultrasound guided allowing you to see the inflammation within the body and treat it precisely.

Sound Medical Technologies, Inc. offers several ESWT– related services. We provide trained staff and certified technicians to operate the equipment during ESWT procedures. Physician certifications, recommendations and our clinical applications specialist can answer all your questions.

Call Sound Medical Technologies to learn how you can have this technology available on a case-by-case basis, without purchase or lease. We deliver and set up the machine and provide you with educational materials for patients. Assist you in providing the procedure. You maintain control of the patient relationship. You receive the reimbursement into your practice.

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