Extracorporeal Shockwave therapy, extracorporeal meaning outside the body is a relatively new treatment option in orthopedic and rehabilitation medicine sometimes referred to acoustic sound wave therapy or pressure wave. The effect of shockwaves was first documented during World War II when the lungs of castaways were noted to be damaged without any superficial evidence of trauma. It was discovered the shockwaves created by depth charges were responsible for the internal injuries. This created a great deal of interest and research into the biological effects of shockwaves on living tissue. The first medical treatment developed from this research was lithotripsy. This allowed focused shockwaves to essentially dissolve kidney stones without surgical intervention. Today, over 98% of all kidney stones are treated with this technology.

The use of shockwaves to treat tendon related pain began in the early 1990s and is currently being used to treat a growing number of joint, tendon, and muscular disorders. These include arthritis of multiple joints, tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), golfer’s elbow, tendinitis of numerous muscles, plantar fasciitis, frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), trigger points, neck pain, back pain, and many other inflammatory conditions. These conditions are often difficult to treat using other methods and can become chronic. These findings have been tested extensively in double-blind studies where patients report reduced pain and faster healing, without side effects, and these results are reported as excellent.

Shockwave therapy utilizes abrupt, high amplitude pulses of mechanical energy, similar to sound waves. The leading explanation is based on the inflammatory healing response. It is felt the shockwaves cause microtrauma to the diseased tendon tissue and damaged muscles. This results in inflammation, which allows the body to send healing cells and increase the blood flow to the injured site.  The therapy promotes catabolic processes that remove damaged tissues and stimulates wound healing mechanisms. Shockwave therapy also stimulates angiogenesis which is the formation of new blood vessels so the treated area will benefit in the future from increased circulation.

Treatments are administered in the clinic and do not require anesthesia or injections. A handheld probe is placed on the area(s) of greatest tenderness and the shockwaves are delivered over 5-15 minutes. Occasionally, patients will relate mild transient discomfort at the treatment site. Adjustments to the machine can make the treatment as tolerable as possible for the patient to receive the best benefits. Patients are usually treated with 3 – 6 sessions separated by 3-7 days all depending upon the chronicity and severity of the injured area. Between treatments, patients are able to perform all normal daily activities. Some patients report immediate pain relief, but the healing response usually requires 6 – 8 weeks. Early results are encouraging, and research continues at multiple sites around the country.

 Shockwave Therapy treats several conditions including:

  • Tennis elbow/Golfer's elbow
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Runner’s knee
  • Shoulder pain
  • Trigger points
  • Patella (knee cap) pain
  • Morton’s Neuroma
  • Shin splints
  • Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
  • Hamstrings Tendonitis


Shockwave Therapy is FDA approved for a variety of conditions and there are hundreds of clinical studies proving efficacy.  Based on the positive results, the potential of shockwave therapy as a safe, non-invasive treatment for tendonitis and other soft tissue conditions appears to be emerging.

However, the below list is contraindicated for the use of treatment with Shockwave Therapy: 

  • Blood thinning medications such as Coumadin or Heparin
  • Over cancer
  • Pregnancy
  • Advanced stage Diabetes
  • Cortisone injections within 4 weeks of ESWT
  • Over an open growth plate until bone reaches full maturity
  • On top of open wounds or skin infection

Shockwave Therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment for musculoskeletal issues that may not respond to conventional manipulation or therapies. The Stortz Medical device sends thousands of sound wave pulses into a precisely targeted tissue or muscle and works in tandem with your body’s healing processes to relieve pain.

Glenwood Chiropractic offers this innovative effective treatment for chronic and acute musculoskeletal issues.  By removing scar tissue, lengthening shortened tissues, correcting biomechanics and/or posture, restoring mobility and strength many problems can be resolved. If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area and are looking for an safe effective treatment for acute or chronic injuries, call our office and book a consultation with us at 919-781-7177.