Radial Shockwave Therapy

What is Radial Shockwave Therapy?

Radial shockwave therapy consists of high-intensity sound waves interacting with body tissues. Radial shockwave therapy treats shoulder tendinopathy, and calcific tendinitis. It is effective in achilles tendinopathy, chronic heel pain and painful stump neuroma.

Radial shockwave therapy can help decrease pain in the body. This pain relief occurs by over-stimulating nerves to reduce their signals to the brain. It can also reduce pain by tissue healing, calcification break down, and its effect on cells. Devices used can vary in design, depending on the type of shockwave produced. Shockwaves can be either focused shockwaves or radial shockwaves.

How does radial shockwave therapy work?

Radial shockwave therapy is the most common shockwave found in doctors offices & physio clinics. This type of sound wave is able to send acoustic waves into human tissue. Radial shockwaves are generated by acceleration of a projectile. It uses compressed air and shoots a bullet through a tube at the end of which is the applicator. The applicator transmits the acoustic waves into the body. We will show you how it works below.

The sound wave comes out of the tip of the “gun” and sends a strong wave into tissue. This is why radial shockwave therapy is a very good option for stiff muscles and tension. This treatment is able to relax muscles and increase blood flow to the muscles and tendons. Radial shockwave therapy is a safe and effective treatment which is gaining popularity.

Why is radial shockwave a popular choice for clinics?

Radial shockwave therapy is a very popular treatment modality for rehab clinics. The reason is because radial shockwave is a quick, versatile, and effective treatment. When combined with focus shockwave it can be even more effective.

See this link for information on the other kind of shockwave, focus shockwave therapy.


Regardless, radial shockwave is effective for bone spurs, chronic muscle tension and tendon issues. It is effective for removing myofascial restrictions and stimulating stem cells among others to improve healing.

How much does radial shockwave therapy cost?

The cost of radial shockwave therapy does vary between clinics, provinces, and even countries. In Alberta, shockwave cost ranges from $150-$300+. This depends mainly on what the clinic is offering. Some clinics may charge per body part or number of shocks. Some clinics only have radial shockwave, while others have both focus and radial and combine treatments. Overall, it is important that when accessing radial shockwave therapy you ask your provider if exercises are necessary. Typically, radial shockwave therapy does work better when combined with traditional physiotherapy techniques like exercise and strength building movements.

What clinician will perform the treatment?

There are many different types of providers doing this treatment. This can range from massage therapists, technicians, physios, podiatrists, medical doctors and chiropractors. Currently, this is not a restricted activity when performing radial shockwave therapy. The reason being is that is it safe and has limited side effects. Focus shockwave is a bit different. It can have very serious side effects when not performed correctly and not within the scope of the practitioner. General public are not advised to use these devices and they can not be sold to general public.

Is radial shockwave therapy good for my condition?

There are many conditions that respond positively to radial shockwave therapy. There are also some conditions that do not respond at all or have lower success rate. Please see below for a better idea :

Conditions that have higher success rate with radial shockwave therapy:

  • Plantar fasciopathy
  • Heel spurs, shoulder calcific tendinitis
  • Chronic rotator cuff injuries when combined with exercise
  • Chronic muscular tightness
  • Tennis elbow
  • Mortons neuroma
  • Bunions
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Runners knee, tendinopathy
  • Knee arthritis with soft tissue signs
  • Bursitis
  • Some nerve pain conditions or segmental dysfunctions

Conditions that do not respond or have poor response to radial shockwave therapy:

  • Shoulder impingement
  • Severe lumbar radiculogpthy or herniated disk (acute)
  • Fibromyalgia and non specific chronic pain conditions
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Severe arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Erectile dysfunction (focus only)

The above lists relative and can have changes depending on the type of shockwave used and the specific approach. When radial shockwave is combined with other treatments it is sometimes more effective.

Learn more about shockwave therapy?

How does shockwave therapy work?