Radial Shock Wave Therapy



Radial Shock Wave Therapy: What is it? How can benefit those pesky chronic injuries?

Have pain on the outside of your elbow when you pick up your favourite venti-late? Or pain in your heel when you roll out of bed in the morning? Have you had these conditions treated with more conventional options that just didn’t get you back in the game?  You may be an ideal candidate for shockwave therapy.
“Radial shock wave therapy (RSWT) is a low- to medium-energy shock wave that is pneumatically generated through the acceleration of a projectile inside the handpiece of the treatment device and then transmitted radially from the tip of the applicator to the target zone.” (Cacchio et al., 2006). Colloquially, it is like a “mini-jackhammer” for soft tissue injuries like plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, patellar tendinopathy, and calcific shoulder tendinitis just to name a few. It is a bit less focussed than extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) but shown by current research to be as effective in treating many tendinopathies and somewhat less painful (Cacchio et al., 2006; Simplicio et al., 2020).

RSWT is also cheaper for both the clinician and the patient as the machines are significantly cheaper than ESWT.

Some of the theory and proposed benefits for SWT compiled by (Testa et al., 2020; Simplicio et al., 2020) include:

  1. Promotes soft tissue healing via local increased circulation
  2. Tissue regeneration
  3. Neurovascularization
  4. Stimulate tendon remodelling
  5. Reduction of calcification
  6. Pain relief via inhibition of pain receptors.

Its efficacy in treating tendinopathies has been widely researched and has been used since the 1990s and before (Cacchio et al., 2006). It is a common modality offered at many physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinics and could be that missing piece to help you beat those chronic injuries that have been holding you back. For further reading please see the reference section.

Cacchio A, Paoloni M, Barile A, Don R, de Paulis F, Calvisi V, Ranavolo A, Frascarelli M, Santilli V and Spacca G (2006). Effectiveness of Radial Shock-Wave Therapy for Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder: Single-Blind, Randomized Clinical Study. Physical Therapy, Volume 86, Issue 5, 1 May 2006, Pages 672–682.
Simplicio CL, Purita J, Murrell W, Santos GS, dos Santos RG and Lanna JFSD (2020). Efficacy of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy Mechanisms in Musculoskeletal Regenerative Medicine. Journal of Clinical Orthopaedics and Trauma.
Testa G, Vescio A, Perez S, Consili A, Costarella L, Sessa G and Pavone V (2020). Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Treatment in Upper Limb Diseases: A Systematic Review. Journal of Clinical Medicine 9(2): 453.


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