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What's Better? Shockwave Therapy or Steroids?

What is a Steroid Injection?


A steroid injection into a chronically inflamed injury has been a very common treatment practice that can help reduce inflammation and help return you to your activities. Prior to the increased accessibility of Shockwave Therapy this was one of our few choices. There are also risks of steroids.


Risks of Steroid Injections


Diabetics can have a complication with steroids, temporarily affecting their bold sugar levels. Steroids can weaken your tissues making you more susceptible to injuries or tears. Other issues are death of nearby bone and cartilage, joint infection, thinning of bone or osteoporosisSkin changes can occur with whitening of the skin as well as skin and soft tissues. Steroids are not tissue healing. It is because of these risks that your doctor will limit the number of steroid injections you get within a year.


Risks of Radial Pressure Wave Therapy


There are no risks of Radial Pressure Wave Therapy (R-PWT) and treatments are not painful.


R-PWT is tissue healing and regenerative.


A longitudinal study on low back pain compared Shockwave Therapy to steroid injections of the nerves to the low back joints under x-ray in an operating room and to burning or ablation of these nerves also in an operating room with x-ray, called radiofrequency lesioning.


While each of these treatments showed a reduction in pain as well as an improvement in function, Shockwave Therapy as well as burning the nerves so that pain is no longer felt were the most successful and lasted the longest. Steroid injections did not show as much of an improvement and the smaller improvement did not last as long.


When comparing these treatments you have to ask yourself, which treatment should I try?


Shockwave Therapy is tissue healing while steroids and nerve ablation or burning are not. The cost is much more affordable for Shockwave Therapy and it does not hurt and does not require x-ray imaging nor an operating room.



Other studies comparing Shockwave Therapy versus steroids have shown similar improvements with both groups in conditions like tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis and shoulder inflammation. Limitations of these studies were limited Shockwave treatments and no long term follow up to see how patients were doing. With increased treatments as well as a follow up months later, based on other studies showing effectiveness of Shockwave Therapy, the outcomes might have been even better.

Comparison Between ESWT and Steroid Treatment

Combining Shockwave Therapy using a Radial Pressure Wave device with manual therapy or hands-on treatment and coaching is a great choice when dealing with low back pain, or other chronic injuries that are not getting better.


What's Better? Shockwave Therapy or Steroids?