Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy is an integrated therapy that is used in physical therapy practice to manage musculoskeletal disorders. This innovative tool is praised for its ability to quickly and significantly reduce pain and improve the quality of life. Shock wave treatment is a non-invasive and completely safe tool with a success rate that ranges from 65% to 91% depending on the injury. Focused shock wave therapy can help accelerate recovery and reduce both chronic or acute pain.

What is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy?

Back in 1980, Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) was introduced into clinical settings as a non-invasive treatment for breaking down kidney stones and gallstones. Its effectiveness with lithotripsy suggested that it may also be useful in dealing with musculoskeletal conditions.

Today, shockwave therapy is a trusted tool commonly used in physiotherapy, orthopedics, and sports medicine. Many scientific studies have proven the effectiveness of this simple and quick procedure in conditions like chronic plantar fasciitis, lateral epicondylitis (ie. tennis elbow), low back pain, chronic achilles tendinopathy, and more. With no risks and a high success rate, shockwave therapy serves as an preferred alternative to surgical intervention or painkillers or anti inflammatory medication.

Shock wave therapy utilizes special equipment to transmit acoustic energy into the treated area of the body. This shock is mechanical but not electrical. This is low frequency sound waves that increases blood flow through the injury area. This method uses shock wave waves to ease tendon pain. Initially shock waves work on the nerve ending causing pain and can provide immediate pain relief.

How Does Shock Wave Therapy Work?

Shockwave therapy is performed with a handheld device that sends low energy acoustic waves through the skin by way of a conducting gel. The device features a projectile that is controlled by compressed air, which creates the energy that is absorbed by the area being treated. This energy triggers the body to regenerate tissues and repair the injured area enhancing the body’s natural healing process.

If you were to receive a shockwave treatment at MOTUS, we would begin by discussing your injury. Your physical therapist will assess your condition and create a treatment plan that may include things like specific exercises or stretches in addition to the shockwave therapy. A treatment plan will also lay out a schedule for shockwave therapy.

When it’s time to receive the therapy, your physiotherapist will decide on intensity and frequency of the pulses, and adjust your treatment to suit your needs. At MOTUS, we use a trusted brand called PiezoWave, which provides a focused penetration with variable depths. Treatment is applied directly to the injured area, allowing for a targeted shock wave therapy specific to the condition.

Pros of Using Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy

Aside from being an attractive option for pain relief, shock waves are non-invasive treatments effective on the difficult and sometimes impossible to diagnose. As a result doctors seek more efficient solutions for people who are struggling with simple treatments and have no improvement. It is now becoming clear why shockwave therapy is the answer to the problem. A recent 2017 study found that ESWT could help relieve Chronic Plantar fasciitis more than any other form of treatment.

Two: it is a great alternative to surgical intervention. In the past, patients with tendon tears had to go under the knife in order to fix the problem. However, recent studies have shown that shock wave therapy can help repair tendons with as good of success rates as surgery but without any of the risks associated with it.

Three: shockwave therapy is a quick and easy procedure. It only takes a few minutes to perform and patients are able to go about their day as usual following the treatment.

As we’ve mentioned, ESWT is completely safe and has no serious side effects. It’s a simple, non-invasive substitution for complicated surgeries or prescription drugs. That makes it a convenient and accessible, solution for many chronic conditions (chronic tendinopathy, chronic calcific tendinitis, etc.), with a good cost to effectiveness ratio.

Application of shock wave therapy controls pain by moderating the release of substance P, a neurotransmitter that directly relates to pain. A 2012 study found a direct relationship between the decrease of substance P and the pain reduction from shockwave treatment for tendon insertion diseases. The therapy encourages healing by breaking apart calcifications that can form from trauma to the tendon (also known as chronic calcifying tendonitis). It also stimulates the production of collagen, which is necessary for repairing damaged musculostructures.

Shockwave therapy is useful in its position between basic, initial treatments — like rest, ice, and compression — and major, costly treatments, like surgery. It gives physical therapists another tool for healing that comes with relatively fast, easy recovery.

At worst, patients may experience some swelling or soreness in the area for a few days following the treatment. This is just a sign of the body healing itself as the therapy has encouraged it to do. Extracorporeal shock waves provides a way for athletes and other patients to address a musculoskeletal disorders quickly and efficiently so they can get back to play.

Who Benefits from Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy?

Our shockwave therapy is an ideal solution for chronic tendinopathy that doesn’t seem to go away. Shockwave therapy can provide successful treatment for stubborn, chronic pain cases that aren’t responding to other forms of conventional treatment. Studies have proven that shockwave therapy is effective at treating conditions such as:

  • Shin splints
  • Hip bursitis
  • Chronic plantar
  • Back pain
  • Patellar tendonitis
  • Chronic Achilles tendinopathy
  • Medial and Lateral Epicondylitis (more commonly know as golfer and tennis elbow, respectively)
  • Chronic calcific tendinitis of the rotator cuff

Whether you are suffering from musculoskeletal disorders as a result of a sports injury or an overuse injury, shockwave therapy might prove to be a good solution to your pain and immobility. If you are an Orange County resident with a chronic tendinopathy condition, consider contacting us at MOTUS about receiving shockwave therapy.

The research shows extracorporeal shockwave therapy is an efficient modality for relieving chronic pain and increasing functional status of different tendinopathies.

Final Thoughts on Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive, effective treatment that uses acoustic waves to help with the healing response of injured tissue. It is a relatively new treatment option, but studies have shown that it is as effective as surgery in repairing tendon damage. 

Shock wave therapy is quick and easy to perform, and patients are able to go about their day as usual following extracorporeal shockwave treatment.

There are few side effects, and the cost to effectiveness ratio is good. Shockwave therapy is a valuable tool for physical therapists, as it can be used to treat a number of chronic musculoskeletal disorders. If you are an Orange County resident with a chronic tendinopathy condition, contact MOTUS today to see if shockwave therapy is right for you.


  1. Rompe JD, Nafei W, Maffulli N. Shock wave therapy for chronic Achilles tendinopathy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Apr 18;4:CD011927. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011927.pub3. PM
  2. Hirschmann MT, Maffulli N. Evidence-based use of extracorporeal shockwave therapy in orthopaedics. Br J Sports Med. 2006 Apr;40(4):269-77; discussion 277. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2005.024573. Epub 2006 Jan 9.
  3. Maffulli N, Testa V, Capasso G, et al. Shockwave therapy for chronic calcific tendinitis of the rotator cuff: a controlled trial. Lancet. 1999 Jul 17;354(9178):269-72.doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(98)09381-4.
  4. Fialkow RJ, Bruno GJ 3rd, Butler DL, et al. Noninvasive management of greater trochanteric pain syndrome with radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy. PM R. 2012 Jul;4(7):608-13. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2012.04.011. Epub 2012 May 4.
  5. Dall’Alba G, Setti S, Ippolito E, et al. The analgesic effect of extracorporeal shockwave therapy on chronic pain is mediated by the release of endogenous opioids. Eur J Pain. 2012 Feb;16(2):213-21. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2011.00233.x. Epub 2011 Oct 14.
  6. Maffulli N, Secci M, Testa V, et al. Effectiveness of extracorporeal shock wave therapy in the treatment of lateral epicondylitis. A randomized, controlled trial. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2001 Dec;83-A(12):1889-97.
  7. Angela Notarnicola and Biagio Moretti – The biological effects of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (eswt) on tendon tissue

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