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Benefits of Shockwave Therapy for Nerve Regeneration

Benefits of Shockwave Therapy for Nerve Regeneration

Authors: Thomas Hausner, Krisztián Pajer, Gabriel Halat, Rudolf Hopf, Robert Schmidhammer, Heinz Redl, Antal Nógrádi
This study explores how de-focused low-energy extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) aids nerve regeneration. ESWT is already used for conditions like epicondylitis and plantar fasciitis and in bone and wound healing. It’s known to enhance the metabolic activity of certain cells, but its impact on nerve tissue is less understood.

Researchers used Sprague-Dawley rats to investigate ESWT’s effects on nerve repair. They implanted a nerve graft in the test subjects’ right sciatic nerve and divided them into two groups. One group received ESWT immediately after grafting, while the control group did not. Various tests, including gait analysis and nerve function studies, were conducted over three weeks to three months.

Results showed that the ESWT group had significantly better nerve function and recovery at six to eight weeks. The treated test subjects displayed higher nerve signal amplitudes and more myelinated nerve fibers in both the graft and distal stump areas compared to the control group. At three weeks, ESWT-treated nerves were filled with well-myelinated regenerating axons, unlike the control group, which had many phagocytes and unmyelinated fibers.

By three months, both groups showed similar levels of nerve regeneration, but the initial faster recovery in the ESWT group suggests that shockwave therapy accelerates the early stages of nerve repair. This acceleration is likely due to quicker removal of degenerated axons and a higher regenerative capacity of injured nerves.

In summary, ESWT shows promise in enhancing the speed and quality of nerve regeneration after injury, providing a potential new treatment avenue for nerve damage.

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