We have performed a controlled, randomised study to analyse the effects of low-energy shock-wave therapy (ESWT) on function and pain in tendinitis of the supraspinatus without calcification. There were 20 patients in the treatment group and 20 in the control group. The former group received 6,000 impulses (energy flux density, 0.11 mJ/mm2) in three sessions after local anaesthesia. The control group had 6000 impulses of sham ESWT after local anaesthesia. The patients were examined at six and 12 weeks after treatment by an independent observer who evaluated the Constant score and level of pain. We found an increase in function and a reduction of pain in both groups (p < or = 0.001). Statistical analysis showed no difference between the groups for the Constant score and for pain. We therefore do not recommend ESWT for the treatment of tendinitis of supraspinatus.