The ABC of shock wave therapy


Shock waves have been used in medicine since 1980, for instance to break down kidney stones. Shock waves are generated as a pressure wave in modern pain therapy and applied to tissue via a contact agent (gel).

Radial as well as focussed shock waves have a microbiological effect and stimulate self-healing. Therapeutic uses:

Painful, chronic inflammation of the musculoskeletal and supporting systems
Sports medicine/orthopaedic problems
Tennis/golfer’s elbow
Shoulder pain
Treatment of trigger points
Trochanteric bursitis
Heel pain
Tendon insertion disorders: painful inflammatory conditions of tendinous insertions due to excessive or incorrect weight-bearing or degenerative processes
Painful trigger points: acute or chronic pain such as in the back, shoulder and neck regions, due to permanently shortened and thickened muscle segments (trigger points)
Acupuncture points: pain therapy by treatment of acupuncture points

Positive effect

Increased release of Substance P (responsible for pain inhibition)
Anti-inflammatory effect by slowing down of the inflammatory mediator COX II
Activation of the body’s endogenous repair mechanism e.g. new development of vessels
Blockade of overstimulated nerve fibres, thus providing relief from pain

Shock wave therapy may be unpleasant in certain situations, but is adapted to the patient’s sensitivity to pain. This is a self-paid service. Modern health insurers however take over a part on request (SUVA, Wincare, Helsana, Swica). (Source: MTR AG, Wollerau)