Radial Shock Wave Therapy – A treatment for tendons

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Radial Shock Wave TherapyUses for Radial Shock Wave Therapy

Radial Shock Wave Therapy (RSWT) is used for treatment of a tendon overuse injury, or “tendinopathy”.
This includes conditions such as Achilles pain, heel pain (plantar fasciitis), tennis elbow and painful calcium deposits in tendons (“calcific tendonitis”).


Shock waves have been in use for medical purposes since the 1970s. Originally developed for treating stones in the urinary tract and salivary gland, shock waves were later used for treating soft tissue injuries in the 1990s. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of treatment with shock waves for musculoskeletal conditions including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, patellar tendinopathy, gluteal tendinopathy and tennis elbow.

How it works

A radial shock wave is a low-medium energy pneumatic wave generated by an air compressor inside the device. At Narrabeen Sports & Exercise Medicine Centre we use radial shock waves which have a lower peak pressure and longer rise time than extracorporeal or focused shock waves. Radial shock waves have the benefit of being lower energy, hence less painful, and the radial nature of RSWT emission means the waves can propagate over a wider area of the body.
When applied to musculoskeletal tissue, the shock waves have been shown to stimulate the release of tissue growth factors, new blood vessel formation and stem cell activation, all of which promote tissue regeneration. Substance P, the messenger in pain nerve fibres is also depleted, resulting in the nerves being unable to transmit pain for a short period.

Radial Shock Wave TherapyThe treatment

Each treatment involves application of the hand-piece of the device to the affected tissue and the transmission of shock waves. We recommend a minimum of 3 treatments, approximately 1 week apart.

Benefits and advantages

  • Non-invasive
  • Decreases pain
  • Improves function
  • Can be used with other treatments apart from cortisone
  • No down-time from sport or work is necessary
  • Effects can be rapid
  • Minimal side effects

At Narrabeen Sports & Exercise Medicine Centre we can assess whether your condition is suitable for treatment with radial shock wave therapy.