21 Mar The History of Low-Intensity Shockwave Therapy: Part 1
There are a number of options for pain management in the Charleston area. Many of the patients we see have tried other modalities or have been told they need invasive treatments. When these patients come to us – whether they suffer from erectile dysfunction or carpal tunnel syndrome – they are often under the impression that low-intensity shockwave therapy is a new technology.
They are often surprised to learn that the roots of shockwave therapy can be traced back to World War II.
As noted in “Shockwave Medicine” edited by by C.-J. Wang, W. Schaden, et al. (2018), “The impact of SWs on human tissue was originally noted during World War II where underwater explosions due to depth charges caused internal tissue damage to the lungs of castaways devoid of any appreciable external evidence of trauma or violence.”
These observations opened up a whole new are of medical research following the war. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that the first medical application of low-intensity shockwave therapy was approved.
Shockwave Therapy for Kidney Stones
In his book “The History of Technologic Advancements in Urology” (2018) Christian G Chaussy of the Universität Regensburg wrote about the early days of what is now the gold standard for the treatment of kidney stones.
“Until 35 years ago, when the first patient was treated with extracorporeal shockwaves and kidney stones were reduced to a size which permitted the fragments to be passed naturally, it required a surgical intervention for the removal of stones,” he said. “It needed a total of 7 years of experimental work and development until it was possible to treat the first patient on February 7, 1980 with extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL). It is this event that would reform the treatment of urolithiasis in the years to come.”
So, as you can see, the use of low-intensity shockwave therapy in medicine isn’t new at all! And, since those early days, shockwave therapy has been proven to be beneficial in the treatment of a variety of conditions in addition to kidney stones, including carpal tunnel syndrome, erectile dysfunction and bursitis in the hip, among others.