Focused Shock Wave Therapy (fSWT)

Shock wave therapy, especially focused shock wave therapy, has been found to be a safe, effective and useful tool for management of hard to treat conditions. These include plantar fasciitis (1) and calcific tendinopathy (2) which are both very debilitating and frustrating problems that are tough to get better.

A shockwave machine produces powerful acoustic shockwaves that are transmitted into the problem area. There are two main types, the Radial Shockwave which produces the most effect at the surface of the skin and just below (<3cm), with the waves becoming dispersed as they go deeper. The second type is the Focused Shock Wave Therapy (fSWT) machine, which is called this as it has the ability to focus on a structure and transmit the waves right to the target. This means that the focused machine is being found to have better effects, as backed up by research (ref?). One of the benefits of focused shockwave is that it effectively penetrates tissue up to 12.5cm deep. This depth covers all tissues, including, tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones. The ability to reach deeper means a focused SW machine is better for insertional tendinopathy (i.e. where the tendon attaches to the bone), bone healing stimulation, as well as in larger individuals; to get right to the source of your pain and tissue injury.

Here at E3 physio we have chosen to go with the ‘gold standard’ focused SWT machine. This gives us the ability to get to deeper tissue, it is more comfortable on the outer tissue and it stimulates a higher level of cellular regeneration (healing), and in recent studies it has demonstrated better results for tendinopathy pain and healing than the radial SWT (3). Basically meaning you are getting a stronger physiological effect and will need less treatment sessions generally. We would recommend Focussed Shockwave Therapy, so if you are considering treatment with shockwave, it’s worth checking what type of Shockwave the clinic you are going to go to is using beforehand.

If you have the old dreaded plantar fasciitis or chronic tendon problems, especially if treatment so far has failed to improve it, then come and see us for focused SWT today.

Conditions that fSWT can help:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Calcific tendinopathy in the shoulder, knee, ankle/heel
  • Chronic tendinopathy including gluteal, patella and achilles
  • Insertional tendinopathy including hamstring, quads, patella
  • Tennis elbow (Lateral epicondylitis)
  • Shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome)

1. Sun et al 2017, Medicine, Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is effective in treating chronic plantar fasciitis: A Meta-analysis of RCTs

2. Bannuru RR, Flavin NE, Vaysbrot E, Harvey W, McAlindon T. 2014, High-energy extracorporeal shock-wave therapy for treating chronic calcific tendinitis of the shoulder: a systematic review. Ann Intern Med. Apr 15;160(8):542–549.

3. Chengxin Li, Zhizhuo Li, Lijun Shi, Peixu Wang, Fuqiang Gao, and Wei Sun, 2021
Effectiveness of Focused Shockwave Therapy versus Radial Shockwave Therapy for Noncalcific Rotator Cuff Tendinopathies: A Randomized Clinical Trial, Biomed Research International