Background and purpose: Radial shock-wave therapy (RSWT) is a pneumatically generated, low- to medium-energy type of shock-wave therapy. This single-blind, randomized, "less active similar therapy"-controlled study was performed to evaluate the effectiveness of RSWT for the management of calcific tendinitis of the shoulder.
Subjects: Ninety patients with radiographically verified calcific tendinitis of the shoulder were tested.
Methods: Subjects were randomly assigned to either a treatment group (n=45) or a control group (n=45). Pain and functional level were evaluated before and after treatment and at a 6-month follow-up. Radiographic modifications in calcifications were evaluated before and after treatment.
Results: The treatment group displayed improvement in all of the parameters analyzed after treatment and at the 6-month follow-up. Calcifications disappeared completely in 86.6% of the subjects in the treatment group and partially in 13.4% of subjects; only 8.8% of the subjects in the control group displayed partially reduced calcifications, and none displayed a total disappearance.
Discussion and conclusion: The results suggest that the use of RSWT for the management of calcific tendinitis of the shoulder is safe and effective, leading to a significant reduction in pain and improvement of shoulder function after 4 weeks, without adverse effects.