Shockwave therapy is an effective way to relieve musculoskeletal and joint pain. Orthopedic doctors and physical therapists often use it to treat patients injured or in a car accident.

It’s also used for patients with arthritis and other joint conditions. There are two types of shockwave therapy: radial and focused.  

Both types have different benefits and are used for different issues. Let’s break down each one so you can understand how they work. If you need shockwave therapy to treat pain, you know which type will be most beneficial for you by the end of this guide. 

How Does Shockwave Therapy Work?

Before we can compare the two types of shockwave therapy, we have to talk about how this treatment works in the first place. 

Essentially, shockwave therapy uses low-energy acoustic sound waves aimed at your skin to trigger your body’s healing response. The process also breaks up scar tissue and stimulates blood flow. 

Patients like shockwave therapy because it is non-invasive. It’s a great way to get relief from pain without surgery or pain killers. Plus, it is an affordable treatment option, and there is no downtime afterward.

The treatment is administered in different methods depending on whether you get radial or focused shockwave therapy. Let’s compare the different types of shockwave therapy. 

What is Radial Shockwave Therapy?

Let’s start with radial shockwave therapy since it’s the oldest method. Radial waves start strong and then purposefully loses energy as it penetrates the skin. 

The shockwaves move in a radial shape and cover a larger area of the body than focused shockwave therapy does. If your pain is throughout your body, radial shockwave therapy is a good option for you. 

One of the top benefits of radial shockwave therapy is that it promotes myofascial release, which is key for eliminating pain. 

What is Focused Shockwave Therapy?

If your pain is localized, focused shockwave therapy should be your first choice. This treatment is better for relieving acute pain. The soundwaves penetrate deeper into your tissues than radial soundwaves do.

Focused shockwave therapy also uses more energy and a faster pulse. It’s generated in a cylindrical coil shape. However, even though it’s more intense, it doesn’t damage the skin. 

If the root of your pain comes from deeper tissue close to your bone, focused shockwaves can specifically target the painful area. 

How is Each Type of Shockwave Therapy Administered?

Both types of shockwave therapy are administered in a way that resembles an ultrasound. A gel is spread on your skin, and then the shockwave applicator is directed at your skin to administer the soundwaves.

The difference between the two types of applicators is their shape. As we said, radial shockwaves disperse in a radial shape while focused shock waves disperse in a cylindrical coil shape. 

They also use slightly different technology. Radial shockwaves use a pneumatic technology, which allows them to be softer waves. Focused shockwaves, on the other hand, use electromagnetic technology. They actually use an x-ray or ultrasound machine to guide the applicator to your pain or injury.

Since it produces harder shockwaves, you may feel mild pain after focused shockwave therapy. However, that is a sign that the treatment is working.

Which Type of Shockwave Therapy is Right For Me?

As you can see, the main difference in these types of shockwave therapies is how they interact with your pain. Both have great benefits, but you may benefit more from one over the other based on your situation.

If your pain is superficial, meaning it isn’t localized in one spot, radial shockwave therapy will be best for you. It’s a more comfortable procedure since the shockwaves aren’t as intense, but you will still get great results. It’s also a great way to treat surface-level pains.

If your pain is deeper in your tissues, you will probably need focused shockwave therapy. The shockwaves are stronger and more intense, but they will better target the source of your pain. It’s the best option for treating acute problems like arthritis.

It’s also possible that you will benefit from both types of shockwave therapy. That’s why all medical practices and sports medicine facilities that offer shockwave therapy should have both types. Speaking of facilities, let’s discuss where to find shockwave therapy treatments next.

Where to Find Shockwave Therapy Treatments

Unfortunately, shockwave therapy is not something that all general doctors offer. However, you can usually find it in the following places:

  • Orthopedic medical practices  
  • Physical therapy practices
  • Sports medicine practices

If your general practitioner doesn’t offer shockwave therapy, they may be able to refer you to someone who does.  

Once you find someone, you can consult with them about your pain or injury, and they will outline the best treatment plan for you. They will determine the best type of shockwave therapy for you, the right amount of pulses, and how often you should get treatments. 

Typically, patients continue getting shockwave therapy treatments every seven to ten days until they get the results they want.

Try Shockwave Therapy Products Today

Shockwave therapy is a great way to relieve pain without surgery or pain killers. You won’t have to deal with risky side effects, recovery time, or an invasive procedure. Plus, you will feel amazing afterward when your pain is gone. 

If you are a healthcare provider looking for shockwave therapy products, Oceanus offers the best top-rated options. We off both in-office and at-home shockwave therapy machines. Adding shockwave therapy to your practice will greatly enhance your patients’ pain relief services. Check out our website to learn more about our shockwave therapy systems, and contact us today with any questions.