Having received a number of inquiries about the differences involved between both technologies, I thought I’d pass on some of their distinctions.
Shockwave is an acoustic wave which carries high energy to the painful area and provokes healing and repair processes. In 1985, focused shockwave therapy was developed and used for kidney stone disintegration. Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) originally used focused shockwaves for the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and pathologies. In 1999 a new and less invasive kind of shockwave therapy was introduced to treat musculoskeletal conditions: Radial Shockwave Therapy. Radial shockwave therapy is most commonly used in orthopedics, rehabilitation and sports medicine but also has a place in veterinary, aesthetics and urology.
Focused and Radial shockwaves differ in their physical characteristics and in the technique for generating the shockwave. Focus shockwave, also called hard shockwave and extracorporeal shockwave uses electromagnetic or peizoelectric technology while radial shockwave, also called soft shockwave, uses pneumatic technology. During radial shockwave treatment a projectile is accelerated in its guide tube by high pressure pneumatic technology. The projectile hits the transmiter at the end of the applicator and emits the shockwave.
Focused shockwave was developed to reach internal organs, is X-ray or ultrasound guided, requires an anesthetic and very accurate precision when applying it. Radial shockwave, designed for more superficial treatment, is less painful when administered and therefore no analgesic is required during treament.
Shockwave stimulates tissue regeneration and repair, neovascularization, myorelaxation, calcific deposits reabsorption and has an analgesic effect on tissues.
Please refer to the BTL Therapeutic Encyclopedia for suggested radial shockwave treatment parameters for common conditions including plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder impingement syndrome, tennis elbow and trigger points.