Extracorporeal shock wave treatment for chronic rotator cuff tendonitis (shoulder pain)

Issues Emerg Health Technol. 2007 Jan;(96 (part 3)):1-4.


(1) Electrohydraulic, electromagnetic, or piezoelectric devices are used to translate energy into acoustic waves during extracorporeal shock wave treatment (ESWT) for chronic rotator cuff tendonitis (shoulder pain). The acoustic waves may help to accelerate the healing process of chronic rotator cuff tendonitis via an unknown mechanism. (2) ESWT, which is performed as an outpatient procedure, is intended to alleviate the pain due to chronic rotator cuff tendonitis. (3) Limited evidence from a German study indicates that the cost of ESWT for rotator cuff tendonitis is one-fifth to one-seventh the cost of surgical treatment, with longer recovery time and time off work in the surgical treatment group accounting for about two-thirds of the overall cost. (4) The evidence reviewed for this bulletin supports the use of high-energy ESWT for chronic calcific rotator cuff tendonitis, but not for non-calcific rotator cuff tendonitis. High-quality RCTs with larger sample sizes are needed to provide stronger evidence.

MeSH terms

  • Calcinosis / pathology
  • Calcinosis / therapy
  • Canada
  • Chronic Disease
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Device Approval
  • High-Energy Shock Waves* / adverse effects
  • High-Energy Shock Waves* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rotator Cuff / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rotator Cuff / pathology
  • Tendinopathy / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tendinopathy / pathology
  • Ultrasonography