This type of shock wave therapy involves using the energy from sound waves and not electric current.  It has been in use for many years to treat medical problems such as tennis elbow, planter fasciitis and to promote bone and wound healing.  Low intensity shock wave therapy uses much less sound wave energy than high intensity shock wave therapy; high intensity shock wave therapy has been used to treat conditions such as kidney and gall stones.

Low intensity shock wave therapy goes by many names, including; ESWT (extra-corporal shock wave therapy), LI-ESWT (low intensity extra-corporal shock wave therapy) and sound wave therapy.

ESWT it is currently used for many medical conditions but is only FDA approved for a very limited number of conditions, such as tennis elbow and planter fasciitis.  ESWT is not FDA approved for the treatment of ED (erectile dysfunction).  There are a very limited number of studies on the efficacy and side effects of ESWT for ED.  While some of these studies have shown promising and encouraging results, ESWT is still considered an experimental treatment.

One possible goal of ESWT in the treatment of ED, is to promote neovascularization or the formation of new blood vessels.  It does this by causing microtrauma inside this penis. As most ED is caused by poor penile blood flow, the hope is that improved blood flow will give rise to improved erections.  Conventional treatments such as Viagra and penile injection therapy produce improved erectile function for minutes or hours.  While the studies to date suggest that the benefits of ESWT usually diminish over time, the improved erectile function after a series of treatments may last for many months. Certainly not a cure, but a step in the right direction.

ESWT is usually performed in a series of treatments over a few weeks lasting around 20 minutes each.  Numbing cream is usually not necessary, but may be used for some patients.  The treatment is applied on the side of the man’s penis with what looks like a large vibrator and with what sounds like a small jack hammer.  It feels like a thud, thud, thud on the penis.  Most patients describe it as relatively painless.  Most men can go about their regular business after a treatment.

ESWT has few known side effects.  While most men experience no side effects from ESWT other than a temporary redness of the penis, some men experience some discomfort during and after the procedure.  Some men have some bruising and swelling. Some men may develop an allergy to the local anesthetic cream applied.  Some men may feel unwell or nauseous from the vibrations of the treatment.

Men with bleeding disorders or who are taking anti-coagulant and/or anti-androgen medications, who have had previous pelvic or prostate surgery or radiation are not good candidates for ESWT.

As with all medical treatments, results will vary.  Some men may have dramatic improvement in their erectile function and others may have no benefit at all.

ESWT is not for everyone.  It is experimental, expensive, time consuming and even when it works, the benefits are not permanent.  It does however represent one of the newest and exciting modalities of treatment for ED in a very long time.

*  As with all medical treatments, results will vary.  Some men may have dramatic improvement in their erectile function and others may have no benefit at all.



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