Relative Effect of Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Alone or in Combination with Noninjective Treatments on Pain and Physical Function in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Biomedicines. 2022 Jan 28;10(2):306. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines10020306.


Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) has been recommended for managing pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis (KOA). The difference in therapeutic effects between radial shockwave characteristics (RaSW) and focused shockwave characteristics (FoSW) with different energy levels for KOA remains controversial. The purpose of this network meta-analysis (NMA) was to identify the effects relative to the different ESWT regime and combination treatments on pain and functional outcomes in individuals with KOA. The randomized controlled trials (RCTs) which investigated the efficacy of RaSW, FoSW, and combination treatments in patients with KOA were identified by searches of electronic databases. The included RCTs were analyzed through NMA and risk-of-bias assessment. We analyzed 69 RCTs with a total of 21 treatment arms in the NMA. Medium-energy FoSW plus physical therapy, medium-energy acupoint RaSW plus Chinese medicine, and high-energy FoSW alone were the most effective treatments for reducing pain [standard mean difference (SMD) = -4.51], restoring function (SMD = 4.97), and decreasing joint inflammation (SMD = -5.01). Population area and study quality influenced the treatment outcomes, particularly pain. Our findings indicate that medium-energy ESWT combined with physical therapy or Chinese medicine is beneficial for treating pain and increasing function in adults with KOA.

Keywords: function; inflammation; osteoarthritis; pain; shockwave therapy.

Publication types

  • Review