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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy in musculoskeletal disorders

Ching-Jen Wang

Author Affiliations

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Section of Sports Medicine, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 123 Ta-Pei Road. Niao Sung District, Kaohsiung City 833, Taiwan

Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2012, 7:11  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-7-11

Published: 20 March 2012

Abstract

The sources of shockwave generation include electrohydraulic, electromagnetic and piezoelectric principles. Electrohydraulic shockwaves are high-energy acoustic waves generated under water explosion with high voltage electrode. Shockwave in urology (lithotripsy) is primarily used to disintegrate urolithiasis, whereas shockwave in orthopedics (orthotripsy) is not used to disintegrate tissues, rather to induce tissue repair and regeneration. The application of extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) in musculoskeletal disorders has been around for more than a decade and is primarily used in the treatment of sports related over-use tendinopathies such as proximal plantar fasciitis of the heel, lateral epicondylitis of the elbow, calcific or non-calcific tendonitis of the shoulder and patellar tendinopathy etc. The success rate ranged from 65% to 91%, and the complications were low and negligible. ESWT is also utilized in the treatment of non-union of long bone fracture, avascular necrosis of femoral head, chronic diabetic and non-diabetic ulcers and ischemic heart disease. The vast majority of the published papers showed positive and beneficial effects. FDA (USA) first approved ESWT for the treatment of proximal plantar fasciitis in 2000 and lateral epicondylitis in 2002. ESWT is a novel non-invasive therapeutic modality without surgery or surgical risks, and the clinical application of ESWT steadily increases over the years. This article reviews the current status of ESWT in musculoskeletal disorders.

Keywords:
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy; Musculoskeletal disorders