Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a noninvasive treatment which involves passing high-frequency acoustic waves through the skin and into muscle, bone, or tissue for therapeutic effect. Typically, shockwave therapy is used to promote accelerated tissue repair and cell growth, analgesia and mobility restoration.

The treatment has been commonly used in treating musculoskeletal issues since the 1980s, and its advantages include:

  • No pain.
  • No down-time.
  • Drug-free.
  • Quick results.
  • No known side effects.

Since then, large amounts of research has taken place on the dose-dependent effects of shockwave therapy of various tissues from skin and muscles to tendons and bone. Researchers discovered that low doses were more destructive (used for treatments like breaking down kidney stones) whereas high doses were more regenerative, leading to the regeneration of soft tissues and even healing bones.

Shockwave therapy for ED uses about one-tenth of the energy used for kidney stones to avoid damaging any tissue in the penis.

shockwave therapy for ed

 

How can shockwave therapy treat ED?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) can have many root causes, however in 90% of men with ED, it is an indication of an underlying medical issue, most commonly cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Disorders like these often restrict blood flow to the penis, which is what medications like sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis) try to correct.

The issue with taking these medications to improve blood flow however, is that they can’t be taken by those with certain conditions including high blood pressure, a past heart attack, liver issues, Peyronie’s disease, and many more. They also temporarily cover up the issue without treating the root cause, which in many cases could lead to a worsening of underlying conditions.

The waves of pressure generated by focused shockwave therapy devices improve blood flow by dissolving plaque buildup in the penis and promoting the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), helping to treat the root cause and provide lasting effects in 75% of patients. If the lifestyle causes of the condition, such as diet and exercise, are addressed, the effects can even be permanent.

 

Focused or Radial Shockwave Therapy, which works best for ED?

Radial shockwave devices have their greatest energy at its source and their signal weakens the farther it travels, meaning they are usually used to treat larger areas of tissue only 3-4cm under the skin.

They create superficial pressure that radiates outward, causing a pro-inflammatory response in the outer tissues – not inside the penis where the energy needs to be delivered to reverse ED. Radial shockwaves are also very uncomfortable when applied to the penis and surrounding area.

“No quality evidence was found to support the use of radial waves in humans for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.”

– Salinas et al. “Are Radial Pressure Waves Effective in Treating Erectile Dysfunction?”

Focused shockwave devices are more commonly used to treat ED, as their higher energy dense waves can be precisely delivered to an exact area up to 12cm under the skin. These precise waves can be used to accurately target and break down fatty plaques that may cause or exacerbate the symptoms of ED.

Unlike radial shockwaves, focused shockwaves can also promote the release of nitric oxide (NO), a vasodilator, meaning improves circulation by dilating blood vessels. Research has shown that nitric oxide likely plays an essential role in erections, and NO deficiency can be a factor in ED.

If you are a clinician or urologist interested in purchasing a shockwave therapy machine to treat ED in your clinic, you can see our Storz Medical shockwave devices for urology here.

 

Where can I go to treat my ED with shockwave therapy?

Shockwave therapy for ED is not currently available on the NHS, however there are multiple private clinics around the UK who provide this treatment at an affordable cost. You can see these clinics on our clinic finder under the grey “Shockwave Urology” and purple “Focused Shockwave” pins.