Efficacy of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy for Lower-Limb Tendinopathy: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

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Objective Extracorporeal shock wave therapy, including radial shock wave and focused shock wave types, is widely used for managing tendinopathies. The difference in efficacy between the 2 shock wave characteristics with different dosage levels remains controversial, and the purpose of this meta-analysis was to examine it for patients with lower-limb tendinopathy. Design A comprehensive search of online databases and search engines was performed. This study included randomized controlled trials reporting the efficacy of extracorporeal shock wave therapy in treating lower-limb tendinopathy. The included randomized controlled trials were subjected to a meta-analysis and risk of bias assessment. Results In total, 29 randomized controlled trials were included, all of which had a good methodological quality, with a PEDro score of ≥6/10. General extracorporeal shock wave therapy showed significant effects at the immediate follow-up [pain score: standardized mean difference =-1.41, 95% confidence interval =-2.01 to-0.82, P < 0.00001; function: standardized mean difference = 2.59, 95% confidence interval = 1.54 to 3.64, P < 0.00001] as well as at 3, 6, and ≥12 months. In sequence, high-dosage focused shock wave, high-dosage radial shock wave, and low-dosage radial shock wave had superior pooled effects on overall clinical outcomes. Conclusions Extracorporeal shock wave therapy exerted a positive overall effect on pain and function for lower-limb tendinopathy. Shock wave types and dosage levels may have different contributions to treatment efficacy. To Claim CME Credits Complete the self-assessment activity and evaluation online at http://www.physiatry.org/JournalCME CME objectives Upon completion of this article, the reader should be able to: (1) Describe benefits of extracorporeal shock wave therapy for individuals with lower-limb tendinopathy; (2) Understand the impact of dosing and type of extracorporeal shock wave therapy has on treatment efficacy; and (3) Identify appropriate indications for incorporating extracorporeal shock wave therapy into the treatment plan for patients with lower-limb tendinopathy. Level Advanced Accreditation The Association of Academic Physiatrists is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The Association of Academic Physiatrists designates this Journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-619
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2018


  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy
  • Focused Shock Wave
  • Function Outcome
  • Lower Limb
  • Radial Shock Wave
  • Tendinopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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