Radial Shockwave Therapy

Radial Shockwave Therapy (RSWT) is an excellent alternative for people with chronic pain who have exhausted all other treatment avenues, and is often used as a pre-surgery option. Radial Shockwave Therapy has been scientifically proven to help relieve chronic pain associated with heel spurs, tennis/golfer's elbow, achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and many other conditions that cause chronic pain.

Radial shockwaves are high energy soundwaves transmitted from a probe held against and passing through the skin and spreading outwards into the underlying tissues. This is believed to induce increased blood flow and metabolic activity around the site of pain accelerating the healing process. At the very least it effectively reduces pain from this area.

About The Treatment

After a simple examination of the affected area, shockwaves are applied via a handpiece or applicator held against the skin. The initial phase of treatment may cause some deep pain however this indicates correct targeting of the problem area. This is usually followed by numbness or heaviness in the area and the latter phase of the treatment feels less painful. The treatment sessions are of 10 minutes duration during which you may receive up to 3000 pulses. Many patients get pain relief in just 8-10 days after the first treatment. Depending on the condition and your response you may require from 3 to 5 treatments.

After The Treatment

You may feel some soreness which may intensify on the night of treatment. Simple analgesia and icing may be required to control this pain. There may also be some minor bruising in the treatment area. You should rest from aggravating activities for 2-3 days after treatment as your osteopath will discuss.

Side Effects

  • Post-treatment pain as above.
  • Local bruising – uncommon and minor.
  • Tendon rupture has not been reported following radial shockwave therapy, unlike cortisone injections and surgery.


If you are considering RSWT and have one of the following contra-indications, this form of treatment may not be appropriate for you:

  • People under 18 years of age (except in the case of Osgood-Schlatter’s). This is because RSWT cannot be applied where growth plates in the bones have not yet fused. If the patient is under 18 and would benefit from RSWT an x-ray can be ordered of the bones in the injured area to ensure the growth plates have fused prior to treatment.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Patients with blood clotting disorders such as haemophilia.
  • Patients taking anti-coagulant medications (blood thinners) such as warfarin, heparin etc.
  • Patients who have received a cortisone injection in the affected area within the last 6 weeks.
  • Tumour or infection in the affected area.
  • Shockwaves are generally not applied to areas located directly above air-filled tissue such as lungs and gut, large nerves and blood vessels, the spine or the head.


Obviously the human body is a complex structure and like many things in medicine we can provide no guarantees of effectiveness of treatment. However, many scientific studies published in reputable medical journals have proven the efficacy and safety of RSWT in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs
  • Achilles tendinopathy (mid-body and insertional)
  • Patella tendinopathy (Jumper’s knee) and Osgood-Schlatter’s disease
  • Shin splints, medial tibial stress syndrome, stress fractures
  • ITB syndrome (Runner’s knee)
  • Trochanteric bursitis and gluteal tendinopathy (pain around the hip)
  • Hamstring tendinopathy
  • Rotator cuff tendinopathy and calcification in the shoulder
  • Tennis and Golfer’s elbow

At Back Active Healthcare, we keep up-to-date with the latest quality scientific research and make this available to you to make your decision