Shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction is the latest modern medicine in-office procedure available to treat erectile dysfunction. At the time of this article, Gainswave has in-office providers in at least 30 states around the country. It’s not just Urologists who are providing this treatment. Chiropractors, Internists, Endocrinologists, and medical spas are treating erectile dysfunction using extracorporeal shock wave therapy.
What is extracorporeal shockwave therapy? What types of conditions besides erectile dysfunction are treated using this technique? How does the FDA view the treatment of ED using extracorporeal shockwave therapy? How effective is this type of treatment? What is the cost?
Shockwave therapy uses acoustic waves which are created by an external device. The energy created by the waves stimulates tissues and encourages rejuvenation.
The types of tissues that many physicians claim can benefit from extracorporeal shockwave therapy are tendons, soft tissues as well as bones or skeletal structures in the body.
There is a multitude of various shockwave therapy machines and treatments available. Prices on consumer models start at $40.00 for simple models to professional grade machines that claim to treat erectile dysfunction for several thousand dollars.
There are a variety of medical grade and non-medical devices available. The FDA designates extracorporeal shockwave therapy machines as class II devices. Most medical devices are class II devices, common examples include powered wheelchairs and penis pumps. 43% of medical devices fall under the class II category.
Shockwave therapy also known as (ESWT) extracorporeal shockwave therapy has many applications. Most are related to the treatment of pain, physical therapy or orthopedics. The following are just some of the known uses and conditions treated:
- Lithotripsy for kidney stones
- Fractured Bones
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Soft tissue injuries
- Heel pain treatment
- Tennis elbow
Shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction is not approved to treat erectile dysfunction by the FDA. Many notable sexual health thought leaders such as Dr. Arthur L. Burnett, professor of urology at John Hopkins University school of medicine and Dr. Irwin Goldstein, director of San Diego Sexual Medicine have been optimistic and outspoken regarding the future potential of shockwave therapy for ED.
As of the time of this article, clinical trials for shockwave therapy have produced encouraging results. However, shockwave therapy for the treatment of erectile dysfunction is still considered experimental. Treatment of erectile dysfunction using shockwave therapy for ED is an off-label use and making claims that it can treat erectile dysfunction as well as promoting shockwave therapy for the treatment of erectile dysfunction could be tricky.
Peyronie’s disease is penile curvature that is characterized by fibrous scar tissue. One might deduct that if shockwave therapy can be used to break up kidney stones that it could be used to break up plaque and fibrous scar tissue in the penis of a man who suffers from Peyronie’s disease. Shockwave Lithotripsy is one of the most common treatments for kidney stones, so why not shock waves to treat peyronie’s disease? Fibrous scar tissue and kidney stones are thought in many cases to consist of calcium.
Gainswave claims on its website that shockwave therapy has been shown to be an effective procedure to break down the scar tissue and reduce the curvature of the penis for someone suffering from typical peyronie’s disease. The logic is there. However, clinical studies have produced contradictory findings.
A 2015 clinical study concluded that in a carefully selected group of men with Peyronie’s disease that low-intensity shock wave therapy appears to be safe, has moderate efficacy, and is associated with a high patient satisfaction rate in the short term.
These results are substantially different from a 2004 source which concluded the following:
“In theory, it might appear plausible to break up plaques of the tunica albuginea (in the penis) with shockwaves. Thus far sound experimental evidence and explanation of the shockwave’s impact and effect on fibrous or even calcified plaque of the tunica albuginea of the corpus cavernosum is still missing.”
Discussion forums and blogs don’t seem to be quite as optimistic about the results of shockwave therapy for ED as does the Gainswave testimonials from their own website. Experienced and critical sexual health professionals are quick to dismiss testimonials from younger healthy men who don’t have a medical condition in which ED is secondary. Creating performance enhancement and treating erectile dysfunction are often confused with each other and are not in fact one in the same.
According to an August 2017 article published in the Urology times, Dr. Harold Reed reported that shockwave therapy for ED can cost as much as $ 19,000.00 if the patient must return many times for follow up treatments. He also does not believe that Shockwave therapy is a cure for erectile dysfunction as some claim. Gainswave cost $ 500.00 per treatment with a recommendation of a 6 to 12 office visits in a treatment protocol. This places the basic treatment package between $ 3,000.00 to $ 6,000.00.
Shockwave therapy is based on the notion of using shock waves to impact blood vessels in the penis that are lacking in blood flow. Nothing creates more blood flow to the penis than the process of creating and releasing erections. A vacuum erection device can be used to create and release multiple erections in one therapeutic session.
The FDA has cleared the use of a penis pump for penile rehabilitation to rehabilitate penile tissues. This is a much stronger medical claim than shockwave therapy and you can purchase directly from the manufacturer without repetitive office visits for under $ 200.00!