Extracorporeal shock wave therapy, which now is used routinely for urolithiasis, has gained increasing acceptance in Europe for some musculoskeletal problems and has led to the inception of clinical studies in the United States. The authors have reviewed the available literature to assess the biologic effects of shock waves on human musculoskeletal tissues, the credibility of published studies on therapeutic applications, and the potential for more widespread application of this modality to various skeletal and near-skeletal disorders. The primary advantage of extracorporeal shock wave therapy is its noninvasive nature and seemingly minimal complications when applied to musculoskeletal tissues.
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