Background: Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is an effective and safe non-invasive treatment option for tendon and other pathologies of the musculoskeletal system.
Sources of data: This systematic review used data derived from the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro; www.pedro.org.au, 23 October 2015, date last accessed).
Areas of agreement: ESWT is effective and safe. An optimum treatment protocol for ESWT appears to be three treatment sessions at 1-week intervals, with 2000 impulses per session and the highest energy flux density the patient can tolerate.
Areas of controversy: The distinction between radial ESWT as 'low-energy ESWT' and focused ESWT as 'high-energy ESWT' is not correct and should be abandoned.
Growing points: There is no scientific evidence in favour of either radial ESWT or focused ESWT with respect to treatment outcome.
Areas timely for developing research: Future randomized controlled trials should primarily address systematic tests of the aforementioned optimum treatment protocol and direct comparisons between radial and focused ESWT.
Keywords: ESWT; PEDRo; RSWT; musculoskeletal system.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press.