Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Treatment in Upper Limb Diseases: A Systematic Review

J Clin Med. 2020 Feb 6;9(2):453. doi: 10.3390/jcm9020453.


Background: Rotator cuff tendinopathy (RCT), subacromial impingement (SAIS), and medial (MEP) and lateral (LEP) epicondylitis are the most common causes of upper limb pain caused by microtrauma and degeneration. There are several therapeutic choices to manage these disorders: extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) has become a valuable option.

Methods: A systematic review of two electronic medical databases was performed by two independent authors, using the following inclusion criteria: RCT, SAIS, MEP, and LEP, ESWT therapy without surgical treatment, with symptoms duration more than 2 months, and at least 6 months of follow-up. Studies of any level of evidence, reporting clinical results, and dealing with ESWT therapy and RCT, SAIS, MEP, and LEP were included.

Results: A total of 822 articles were found. At the end of the first screening, following the previously described selection criteria, we selected 186 articles eligible for full-text reading. Ultimately, after full-text reading, and reference list check, we selected 26 articles following previously written criteria.

Conclusions: ESWT is a safe and effective treatment of soft tissue diseases of the upper limbs. Even in the minority cases when unsatisfied results were recorded, high energy shockwaves were nevertheless suggested in prevision of surgical treatment.

Keywords: chronic tendinopathies; conservative treatment; extracorporeal shockwave therapy; upper limb soft tissue diseases.

Publication types

  • Review