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Shockwave therapy...does it work?

Updated: Dec 8, 2019

The treatment and management of chronic injuries can be a frustrating process for patients and clinicians alike. A recent review of the literature examined the efficacy of radial Shockwave Therapy for a variety of orthopaedic conditions.

Shockwave Therapy is a modality used by a variety of healthcare professionals including physiotherapists to treat a number of chronic injuries such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and muscle strains. The treatment is a series of high energy percussions that create an acoustic, not electrical, energy transfer to the tissue to be treated. This process is hypothesized to create a cascade of healing and pain modulation in the area being treated.

Through high-quality randomized control trials, Shockwave Therapy is proven to be an effective treatment option for many musculoskeletal tendon and connective tissue pathologies.

An article published by the British Medical Bulletin in 2015 reviewed the research literature on extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy and concluded that this modality is effective and safe. The optimal treatment protocol appeared to be three treatment sessions, in 1-week intervals, at the highest energy flux density that the patient could tolerate.

The areas of the body that were adequately researched and showed the most positive outcomes compared to other treatments were: plantar fasciopathy, non-calcific tendinopathy of the rotator cuff muscle called the supraspinatus, calcific tendinitis of the shoulder, Achilles tendinopathy and lateral epicondylitis.

At Waterloo Sports Medicine Centre, Shockwave Therapy is often used as an effective part of a treatment program for soft tissue injuries. Our sports medicine physicians, physiotherapists and registered massage therapists can help guide you in your treatment choices. Visit to view our services or to book an appointment with one of our health care professionals.

The above information can be found in the following article:

Efficacy and safety of extracorporeal shock wave therapy for orthopaedic conditions: a systematic review on studies listed in the Pedro database: Br Med Bull. 2015 Dec; 116(1): 115-138

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