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  • Writer's pictureRachel Rubin

Shock Wave Therapy

We’re always looking for new and innovative evidence-based ways to help those suffering with sexual dysfunction.

That’s why we now have an electrohydraulic shock wave machine, the Urogold100. Evidence indicates that shock wave therapy can help people with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction, and possibly even ease pelvic pain in people of all genders. We are providing this treatment to appropriate patients and also evaluating its impact so we know just who this therapy helps the most.

What is shock wave therapy?

Shock wave therapy isn’t really new—it’s been around since the 1950s. For example, shock wave is used in orthopedics and other specialties to heal injuries and wounds. In urology, I became familiar with the technology in a procedure with a long name—extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, or ESWL—which was basically using high-intensity shock waves to break up kidney stones without having to perform surgery.

More recently, emerging data has shown that lower intensity shock wave may have regenerative properties—basically, using sound waves to “shock” tissue and improve circulation in the area—that aid in the treatment of mild to moderate erectile dysfunction and even chronic pelvic pain. As you’ll see here, the evidence is hopeful; but we also definitely need more research.

What is that current evidence for shock wave?

In 2019 the European Society of Sexual Medicine provided clinical recommendations surrounding low intensity shock wave and did a comprehensive review of the literature.

- Shock wave is a safe and well-tolerated procedure, but its efficacy for the treatment of Erectile dysfunction deserves more investigation.

- Shock wave significantly improves penile hemodynamic parameters (i.e., blood flow) of patients with vasculogenic erectile dysfunction. However, the clinical long-term significance of this improvement is uncertain.

- Shock wave is an option to consider for patients with chronic pelvic pain.

Is there evidence that shock wave helps women with pelvic pain too?

- In 2021, the Journal of Sexual Medicine published a randomized control trial looking at shock wave in vestibulodynia a subtype of vulvar/pelvic pain.

- The results showed that at 1 and 3 months after treatment, women who received shock wave reported decreased pain and increased sexual function scores, compared to no change in the placebo group that hadn’t received the therapy.

Different types of shock waves

Now that you know about shock wave, you will notice a lot of targeted advertisements and even radio ads that promise miracles. It’s important to be skeptical of what you are being offered, and what kind of technology is being used.

There are many devices on the market that are marketed as shock wave but do not provide true shock wave therapy.

There are 3 types of true shock wave therapies: electrohydraulic, electromagnetic, and piezoelectric.

There’s another therapy often lumped together with these known as acoustic pneumatic or radial waves, but they are not actually shock waves. In 2021 there was a systematic review looking at radial waves in treating erectile dysfunction and they did not find data to support the use of radial waves.

The urogold100 in our office is an electrohydraulic device that is FDA cleared for several uses:

- Relief of minor muscle aches and pains

- Temporary increase in local blood circulation

- Activation of connective tissue

What does shock wave treatment look like?

Shock wave treatment will vary depending on the reason we’re using it. Most protocols include weekly treatments for 6 weeks, though researchers are discussing different strategies that may involve more or less frequent treatments.

Each treatment session lasts about 20 minutes and isn’t painful. Results are not typically seen immediately, as tissue regeneration takes time to evaluate.

Is shock wave the magic cure I’ve been looking for?

We don’t believe in magic, so we are excited to help further the research to see which patients shock wave helps the most, and how best to incorporate this therapy in her multi-disciplinary and comprehensive approach to patient care.

This is unlikely to be a miracle cure for all pain and all types of erectile dysfunction or pelvic pain. However, research has shown promise that it may be considered a tool in our toolbox that can help with tissue regeneration and pain alleviation.

Want to hear more from Dr. Rubin?

Check out this podcast Dr. Rubin did all on the topic. It has more than 26,000 views showing how much interest there is on this topic!

Get in touch to find out if shock wave is right for you and schedule your treatment

If you are being treated for mild to moderate erectile dysfunction and/or pelvic pain, call us or email Dr. Rubin right away to get on the schedule.

email or call 202-888-6731

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