The aim of this study was to determine the effect of radial extracorporeal shock-wave therapy (rESWT) on patients with chronic tendinitis of the rotator cuff. This was a randomised controlled trial in which 82 patients (mean age 47 years (24 to 67)) with chronic tendinitis diagnosed clinically were randomly allocated to a treatment group who received low-dose rESWT (three sessions at an interval 10 to 14 days, 2000 pulses, 0.11 mJ/mm2, 8 Hz) or to a placebo group, with a follow-up of six months. The patients and the treating orthopaedic surgeon, who were both blinded to the treatment, evaluated the results. A total of 44 patients were allocated to the rESWT group and 38 patients to the placebo group. A visual analogue scale (VAS) score for pain, a Constant–Murley (CMS) score and a simple shoulder test (SST) score significantly improved in both groups at three and six months compared with baseline (all p ≤ 0.012). The mean VAS was similar in both groups at three (p = 0.43) and six months (p = 0.262). Also, the mean CMS and SST scores were similar in both groups at six months (p = 0.815 and p = 0.834, respectively).
It would thus seem that low-dose rESWT does not reduce pain or improve function in patients chronic rotator cuff tendinitis compared with placebo treatment.
Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2013;95-B:1521–6.