Shock wave therapy is application of the sound waves to treat musculoskeletal conditions and sports-related injuries. It is an effective treatment for trochanteric bursitis. Trochanter bursitis also called hip bursitis or greater trochanter bursitis is a common problem caused by inflammation of the bursa that overlies the greater trochanter (bony prominence at the outer side of the hip). The condition causes pain in the outer portion of the upper thigh. Greater trochanter bursitis most commonly affects runners and athletes participating in soccer and football.
Shock wave therapy is given only when the other conservative treatment methods such as rest, pain medications and physical therapy do not show improvement even when used over a period of 6 months. It is used as an alternative treatment modality to surgery.
Most of the patients who undergo shock wave therapy show significant reduction of pain and improvement in movements of the affected part comparable to other conservative options. It has advantage of being as effective as surgery, with no complication of infection. The side-effects include only temporary redness, pain and swelling at the site of treatment. You can return to work or do normal activities within one or two days after the therapy.
The mechanism of action of the therapy although not very clear has shown to increase the blood flow in the applied site and is believed to thus increase natural tissue repair in the region.
Shock wave therapy is given after numbing the region by giving local anesthesia. Shock waves are directed through a hand-held probe which is moved over the skin of the affected site after applying the ultrasound gel. The sound waves are given as short pulses of less than 1 microsecond. Only 1 to 4 pulses are given per second. Treatment usually involves 1000 to 4000 pulses. Thus, the treatment takes only 14 to 30 minutes. The number and intensity of the sound waves will depend on the severity of the conditions. Complete treatment may require one or more sessions of therapy.
The safety of the shock wave therapy has not been evaluated in pregnant women and children and should not be used for them.