In many cases, shock waves, which are minimally invasive and, above all, definitive, can represent a valid therapeutic strategy after an in-depth diagnosis. With the specialist Maria Cristina D’Agostino, orthopedist and traumatologist at Humanitas, we will deepen the knowledge on this topic.
How can tendon diseases and inflammation of the tendons be detected?
“In the case of tendon diseases and inflammatory processes affecting the tendons, the first level examinations are represented by ultrasound and radiography – explains Dr. Maria Cristina d’Agostino – A well executed ultrasound scan allows to have both static and dynamic evaluation, which, in turn, provides very valuable information on the functionality of the tendon and its integrity, and it is able to discover any adhesions that may hinder the proper movement and flow. Moreover, during the ultrasound scan it is also possible to highlight the possible presence of “pathological” vascularization, which is directly related to the inflammation: this allows integrating the data for an even more accurate diagnosis. In some cases of difficult framing or diagnostic doubt, it is also possible to investigate with magnetic resonance imaging”.
How to treat tendon diseases?
After diagnosis, treatment is planned. “When other non-invasive therapies have proved ineffective, shock waves represent the therapeutic tool of choice for tendon pathologies – explains Dr. Augustine – always associated with therapeutic physical exercise (physiokinesis therapy). This association is very important, because the tendons respond very well and positively to the correct mechanical stress, as well as to biophysical stimulations.
What are shock waves?
Shock waves are mechanical, non-invasive and therefore safe, and relatively well-tolerated stimulations (if correctly performed, with appropriate equipment). With such stimulations it is possible to obtain, in the first instance, an anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effect, but also, with the passing of weeks and months, to contribute to the “well-being” of the tendon as a whole. “At the present state of knowledge, in fact, we can say that – says the expert – with the shock waves you cannot repair the damaged tendons, but you can certainly help to improve at least part of the structure. This type of mechanical stimulation, in fact, has no detrimental effect on living tissues, but it is able to activate growth factors and other local substances, which stimulate specialized cells and stem cells reserves, which – he concludes – make the tendon a vital structure, like other structures of the musculoskeletal system and other organs of the body”.