Second application of low-energy shock waves has a cumulative effect on free nerve endings

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2006 Feb:443:315-9. doi: 10.1097/01.blo.0000188064.56091.a7.


Some physicians recommend treating tendinopathies with multiple sessions of shock waves. Some evidence, however, suggests shock wave application can induce nerve fiber degeneration. We questioned whether repeated shock wave application provides a cumulative effect on nerve fibers compared with the effect of one application. One thousand shock wave impulses of an energy flux density of 0.08 mJ/mm were applied to the foot pad of 32 rats. After 14 days, 16 rats received a second application. The foot pads were resected on Days 7, 14, 28, and 42. Sections were processed immunohistochemically using antibodies for sensory nerve. We compared the number of epidermal nerve fibers in rats that received one application of shock waves with the fibers in rats that received two applications. During the first 4 weeks, there was nearly complete degeneration of epidermal nerve fibers in both groups. By the end of 6 weeks, reinnervation of the epidermis began in the single-treatment group. Reinnervation occurred slower in the repeated-treatment group. These data show that a second application has a cumulative effect on nerve fibers. Our data suggest multiple applications of low-energy shock waves might a provide longer-lasting antinociceptive effect.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Lithotripsy / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Nerve Degeneration / etiology*
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Nerve Endings / pathology
  • Nerve Endings / radiation effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Skin / innervation*
  • Wound Healing / radiation effects