Radial vs. Focused Shockwave Therapy

Radial vs. Focused Shockwave Therapy
Both radial and focused shockwave therapies are widely used for a variety of clinical applications, from treating sports injuries to enhancing wound healing.

While they both operate on the principle of delivering shock waves to the affected area, they differ in technique, depth of penetration, and the types of conditions they’re best suited for. Here’s a closer look at radial and focused shockwave therapy.

Radial Shockwave Therapy

Radial shockwave therapy (RSWT) uses a pneumatic system to generate mechanical pressure waves that spread outwards in a radial pattern. Picture the ripples created when a stone is thrown into a pond, and you have a fairly good visual representation of how the energy moves during RSWT.


RSWT is particularly effective for conditions near the surface of the body and is often used for:

Information verified by the iytmed.com team.
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Tennis elbow
  • Jumper’s knee


  • Non-invasive with no need for anesthesia
  • Short treatment sessions (typically 5-10 minutes)
  • High level of patient tolerance due to adjustable intensity
  • Offers immediate relief for some patients


  • The broader spread might be less effective for deep-seated issues
  • May require more sessions compared to focused shockwave therapy

Focused Shockwave Therapy

Focused shockwave therapy (FSWT), on the other hand, uses electromagnetic or piezoelectric sources to generate high-pressure acoustic waves. These waves are focused to target precise deep tissue areas, delivering energy at specific points to stimulate the desired healing effects.


FSWT is used for deeper or more chronic conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Non-healing ulcers
  • Deeply embedded tendinopathy
  • Bone fractures that are slow to heal
  • Calcific shoulder tendinitis


  • Directs high energy to the desired depth; precise targeting
  • Potentially more effective for deeper tissues and chronic conditions
  • Generally considered to have a higher success rate for certain conditions


  • Might be slightly more uncomfortable than RSWT, sometimes requiring local anesthesia
  • Longer treatment sessions (average of 20 minutes)

Side-by-Side Comparison

FeatureRadial Shockwave TherapyFocused Shockwave Therapy
MethodPneumatic (air pressure)Electromagnetic or Piezoelectric
Energy DeliveryDiffused, radial patternDirect and focused
DepthSuperficial tissues (1-3 cm)Deep tissues (up to 12 cm)
IndicationsSoft tissue injuries close to the surfaceDeep seated or chronic conditions
Session DurationShorter (5-10 minutes)Longer (around 20 minutes)
Treatment FrequencyMay require more sessionsFewer sessions might be needed
ComfortGenerally tolerable without anesthesiaMay require anesthesia for comfort
Success RateGood for indicated conditionsPotentially higher for deep tissue conditions

Ultimately, the choice between radial and focused shockwave therapy should be made by a qualified healthcare provider based on the specific medical condition, the depth and area that needs to be treated, and the individual patient’s tolerance and response to the therapy.

Both therapies hold promise in various therapeutic areas and have been supported by clinical research, though it’s crucial to note that individual experiences and outcomes can vary. As with any medical treatment, discussing the options with a healthcare professional is key to making the right choice for your health and well-being.

Reyus Mammadli

As a healthy lifestyle advisor I try to guide individuals in becoming more aware of living well and healthy through a series of proactive and preventive measures, disease prevention steps, recovery after illness or medical procedures.

Education: Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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