A new technique, called radial shock wave therapy, has been used to treat spasticity and pain in MS patients at the University of Genoa, Italy.
During shockwave therapy, a series of high-intensity sound waves are delivered to an affected area, where it increases the blood flow and stimulates repair while decreasing local factors which can cause pain.
Shock wave therapy is currently extensively used in rehabilitative medicine to treat painful musculoskeletal disorders. Some recent studies, however, suggested that this treatment could also work on spasticity in patients with neurological conditions.
Spasticity affects up to 80% of people with MS and is often painful. The relationship between spasticity and pain is reinforced by the fact that pain increases spasticity, creating a vicious circle of more pain and disability.
The Italian team carried out a trial on 68 people with MS. A total of 34 patients received the shock wave therapy and a further 34 received a dummy treatment. The aim of this study was to treat the painful spasticity of ankle extensor muscles.
The main finding of this study was that four sessions of shock wave therapy induced a significant pain reduction. However, due to the small number of patients, further studies are needed to confirm these results and to evaluate their impact on quality of life.
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