Spasticity, or stiff and rigid muscles, is a common symptom for patients with cerebral palsy or who have suffered a stroke. It can significantly impair mobility and reduce the quality of life. As a healthcare professional, finding effective treatments for spasticity can be challenging. Medications have multiple side effects, and surgery is invasive and carries its own risks. However, there is a promising alternative option—radial shockwave therapy. This innovative approach offers an effective and non-surgical solution to managing severe muscle stiffness.

Radial shockwave therapy uses high-frequency acoustic waves to treat the affected area. This non-invasive treatment can increase blood flow, break up scar tissue, and stimulate cell regeneration. Numerous studies have found it can successfully reduce spasticity and improve mobility in cerebral palsy and stroke patients (Li et al, 2016). Further, the effects have been shown to last for at least 12 weeks after treatment in patients affected by stroke (Manganotti et al, 2005). This duration of effect is particularly significant as it suggests a sustained improvement that can greatly enhance a patient’s lifestyle and daily functioning.

One study found that after radial shockwave treatment, children with spastic cerebral palsy had decreased muscle tone and improved gait (Gawad et al, 2015). Their H-reflex, which measures spasticity, was also reduced. Another study showed that stroke patients had significantly decreased spasticity in their wrist and finger flexors after therapy. Passive range of motion was also improved (Jia et al, 2020). These improvements are crucial as they contribute to better patient autonomy and overall well-being, making everyday tasks more manageable and less painful.

Increased Blood Flow

Radial shockwave therapy can increase blood flow to the affected area, promoting healing and reducing inflammation. In cerebral palsy or stroke patients, this can help release muscle tension and reduce spasticity. Research has shown that radial shockwave therapy can improve muscle tone and range of motion in patients with cerebral palsy.

Breaks up Scar Tissue

Radial shockwave therapy can break up scar tissue that has formed in the affected area due to injury or overuse. Scar tissue can restrict movement and contribute to spasticity, so breaking it up can help to improve range of motion and reduce spasticity. In stroke patients, radial shockwave therapy has been shown to reduce spasticity in the upper limb. By improving the elasticity and functionality of the muscular and connective tissues, patients can experience a greater freedom of movement and a reduction in discomfort.

Stimulates Cell Regeneration

Radial shockwave therapy can stimulate cell regeneration, promoting the repair of damaged tissues and enhancing healing. In cerebral palsy or stroke patients, this can be particularly helpful in cases where spasticity is caused by muscle or nerve damage. Regenerating cells in these damaged areas can lead to significant improvements in function, which can be transformative for patients who otherwise might face lifelong limitations.

Other benefits of radial shockwave therapy include

  • It’s non-invasive and doesn’t require surgery.
  • There is no need for sedation or anaesthesia.
  • Treatment sessions are relatively quick, often 20 minutes or less.
  • It’s well tolerated by most patients. Adverse side effects are rare.
  • It can be used in conjunction with other therapies like botulinum toxin injections.
  • The effects can last for at least 12 weeks, reducing the need for frequent treatments.

These attributes make radial shockwave therapy a convenient and appealing option for both patients and healthcare providers, fitting easily into broader treatment plans and busy schedules.

For cerebral palsy and stroke patients struggling with spasticity and reduced mobility, radial shockwave therapy is an effective option. The treatment is safe, non-invasive, and free of significant side effects. As more studies demonstrate its efficacy, healthcare professionals should strongly consider this therapy for suitable patients. With potential benefits like pain reduction, improved range of motion, and enhanced quality of life, radial shockwave therapy offers new hope for better management of spasticity.



Gawad, H.A.A., Mohammed, A.H. and Karim, A.E.A., 2015. Shock wave therapy for spastic plantar flexor muscles in hemiplegic cerebral palsy children. Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, 16(3), pp.269-275.

Jia, G., Ma, J., Wang, S., Wu, D., Tan, B., Yin, Y., Jia, L. and Cheng, L., 2020. Long-term effects of extracorporeal shock wave therapy on poststroke spasticity: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, 29(3), p.104591.

Li, T.Y., Chang, C.Y., Chou, Y.C., Chen, L.C., Chu, H.Y., Chiang, S.L., Chang, S.T. and Wu, Y.T., 2016. Effect of radial shock wave therapy on spasticity of the upper

Are you a patient? Find clinics offering radial or focused shockwave therapy near you on our clinic finder map.

Are you looking to purchase a device? Read our comparison of the best shockwave therapy devices here.

Are you looking for training on shockwave therapy from leading UK experts? See our course dates and locations here.