Is Shockwave Treatments an Effective Solution for Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain can be challenging to manage, affecting millions of people and significantly impacting their quality of life. A wide range of treatments are available, from medication to physical therapy, but shockwave therapy has garnered attention recently. This blog post explores whether shockwave therapy is an effective solution for chronic pain.

Table of Contents

Understanding Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses high-energy sound waves, also known as shock waves, to treat various medical conditions, particularly those involving the musculoskeletal system. These waves are delivered to the affected area, stimulating the body’s natural healing processes.

Mechanism of Shockwave Therapy in Chronic Pain Management

Unraveling the Science Behind the Treatment

The effectiveness of shockwave therapy in managing chronic pain can be attributed to its unique mechanism of action. High-energy shock waves delivered to the painful area lead to cavitation, where tiny bubbles in the body’s tissues oscillate and burst, creating a force that stimulates healing.

This mechanism has several effects:

  • Increased Blood Circulation: Shock waves stimulate the formation of new blood vessels, promoting increased blood flow to the area. This facilitates the delivery of nutrients and oxygen, accelerating the healing process.
  • Pain Relief: Shockwave therapy is believed to reduce the production of pain mediators and stimulate the production of natural pain-relieving substances in the body.
  • Tissue Regeneration: The shock waves promote the regeneration of tissues, which is beneficial for conditions where damage or degeneration has occurred.

Efficacy of Shockwave Therapy for Chronic Pain

Numerous studies have explored the effectiveness of shockwave therapy in treating chronic pain. These studies, which span conditions such as plantar fasciitis, chronic tendinitis, and back pain, have generally found positive results.

For example, a 2018 systematic review published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation found that shockwave therapy significantly reduced pain and improved function in patients with plantar fasciitis, a common cause of heel pain.

Similarly, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research found that patients with shoulder pain due to rotator cuff tendinitis experienced significant pain reduction and improved shoulder function following shockwave therapy.

Patient Considerations in Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy, like any medical treatment, comes with its advantages and considerations:


  • Non-Invasive: Shockwave therapy is a non-surgical, non-invasive procedure reducing risks associated with surgical treatments.
  • Outpatient Procedure: The treatment is typically done as an outpatient procedure, which means patients can return home the same day.
  • Short Treatment Duration: Each shockwave therapy session is relatively straightforward, typically lasting 15 to 20 minutes.


  • Discomfort During Treatment: Some patients might experience pain during the treatment. However, the intensity of the shock waves can be adjusted to the patient’s comfort level.
  • Potential Side Effects: Side effects are usually minor and temporary. They may include redness, swelling, or bruising at the treatment site.

Given these considerations, discussing with your healthcare provider whether shockwave therapy is the right treatment option for your chronic pain is essential.

Types of Shockwave Therapy

Understanding the Different Forms of Treatment

Shockwave therapy is categorized into two types: focused shockwave therapy and radial shockwave therapy. Focused shockwave therapy uses high-energy sound waves focused on a specific point, while radial shockwave therapy uses lower-energy waves that spread out from the applicator. Both types have been found effective in treating various chronic pain conditions. Still, the choice between them will depend on the nature of your condition and the recommendation of your healthcare provider.

Conditions Treated with Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy is used to treat a variety of chronic pain conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Plantar Fasciitis: This condition is characterized by heel pain resulting from inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes.
  • Tendinitis: Shockwave therapy can treat chronic tendinitis, inflammation or irritation of a tendon, in various parts of the body, such as the shoulder (rotator cuff tendinitis), elbow (tennis elbow), and knee (jumper’s knee).
  • Calcifications: In conditions like calcific tendinitis of the shoulder, where calcium deposits form on the tendons, shockwave therapy can help break down these deposits and alleviate pain.
  • Chronic Back Pain: For some patients, shockwave therapy can relieve chronic back pain, including pain resulting from conditions like degenerative disc disease.

The Future of Shockwave Therapy for Chronic Pain

As research on shockwave therapy continues, the scope of its application in treating chronic pain conditions is expected to expand. Recent studies explore its effectiveness in situations such as osteoarthritis, nerve pain, and even wound healing. The future of shockwave therapy looks promising, and it may become a mainstream option for managing a wide array of chronic pain conditions in the years to come.

Combining Treatments for Comprehensive Pain Management

While shockwave therapy can be highly effective, it’s important to note that the best approach to managing chronic pain often involves a combination of treatments. In addition to shockwave therapy, other strategies like physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can be beneficial. Your healthcare provider can help develop a comprehensive pain management plan tailored to your needs.


In conclusion, shockwave therapy is an effective and non-invasive solution for chronic pain. At Stateline Chiro Center in Glen Mills, PA, we’re committed to providing cutting-edge treatments like shockwave therapy, personalized to address your unique health needs. Our experienced team keeps up with the latest research to ensure we’re offering the most promising solutions for chronic pain management. Whether you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, or other pain conditions, we’re here to help guide you on your journey toward relief. At Stateline Chiro Center, your health is our priority, and we aim to deliver compassionate, comprehensive care at every step.