Background: Recently, shock wave therapy has been investigated as an adjuvant therapy in the treatment of acute and chronic wounds. There are several devices with focused and unfocused shock waves that have been administered to a heterogenous group of wounds. Encouraging preclinical and clinical studies suggest that shock wave therapy may promote wound healing with little or no adverse events, prompting investigations into the mechanism of action and additional clinical trials.
Methods: The peer-reviewed literature within the past 10 years was studied using an evidence-based approach.
Results: Preclinical studies demonstrate that shock wave therapy affects cellular function and leads to the expression of several genes and elaboration of growth factors known to promote wound healing. Limited clinical trials are encouraging for the use of shock wave therapy in the treatment of acute and chronic wounds. Serious complications, including wound infections, bleeding, hematomas, seromas, and petechiae, have not been reported in the largest of these studies.
Conclusions: Shock wave therapy is an intriguing physical modality that may play an important role as an adjuvant therapy in wound healing. To date, there is no consensus on which wounds are most likely to benefit from shock wave therapy and what the optimal power, degree of focus, and frequency or number of cycles should be. Well-designed preclinical and clinical studies are necessary to better understand shock wave therapy in wound healing.