What is Shockwave Treatment? A Glossary of Terms

July 30, 2020  |  By Elise Hamann

What-Is-Shock Wave_A-Glossary-of-TermsHas your quest for information on regenerative and restorative treatment modalities and innovative technologies led you to explore Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT), also known as shockwave treatment? Many healthcare professionals have questions about this evidence-based technology and what it can offer their patients and practice.

Delve into the basics with this quick glossary of useful terms and acronyms.

What Is EPAT? What is ESWT?

Basic Definition: EPAT, or Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology, is an evidence based, non-invasive technology platform that uses unique sets of acoustic pressure waves to elicit a healing response from diverse tissues. 

More Detail: When shockwaves are used as treatment in medicine, they have been historically referred to as Extracorporeal Shockwave Treatment (ESWT). However, we have found the need to differentiate and refer to our product and technology offerings as Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology/Treatment or (EPAT®), a proprietary mark that is arguably more patient-friendly and encompasses our full product and technology platform portfolio of Focused Shockwave (F-SW), Radial Pressure Wave (R-PW) and Planar Shockwave (P-SW) systems, powered by STORZ Medical.

Both terms, ESWT and EPAT, can be used to describe these evidence-based, evidence-guided technology platforms being used to treat a broad range of musculoskeletal disorders and conditions that affect muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, bones, joints and other vascular structures.

What are Focused Shockwaves (F-SW)?

Basic Definition: Focused Shockwaves are a unique set of acoustic pressure waves with an initial, abrupt positive high pressure followed by a small negative pressure.

More Detail: The positive pressure causes sudden, dramatic changes in stress, density and temperature as it directly transfers energy to the treatment area. Because focused shockwaves feature a smaller focal zone than other shockwaves, this technology can be used for precise targeting of deeper tissue. Focused shockwaves are often beneficial for soft tissue, bone and vascular structures.

What are Radial Pressure Waves (R-PW)?

Basic Definition: Radial Pressure Waves are a set of acoustic pressure waves characterized by an oscillating pressure gradient with a much smaller amplitude and much longer duration than focused shockwaves.

More Detail: While also known as radial shockwave treatment or therapy (R-SW, RSWT or rESWT), this technology is an acoustic pressure wave, however, not a true shockwave. Radial pressure waves lack the explosive, non-linear qualities of focused shockwaves. This makes them most effective on larger, more superficial treatment areas (up to 50 mm). Interestingly, despite differences in physical characteristics and application, both focused shockwaves and radial pressure waves deliver beneficial outcomes. In fact, anecdotal data suggests that combining shock and pressure wave treatments can deliver complementary results.

What are Planar Shockwaves (P-SW)?

Basic Definition: A unique type of focused wave that combines features of both focused shockwaves and radial pressure waves. 

More Detail: Planar shockwaves, also referred to as defocused shockwaves, propagate similarly to radial pressure waves and have been shown to be as clinically effective as focused shockwaves. They are often used in the treatment of trigger points, wound healing and aesthetic indications.


Would you like to explore how this evidence-based technology has consistently proven to be a safe and highly effective modality for treating a broad range of musculoskeletal disorders and conditions?

Don’t miss the complete white paper, What is Shockwave? The Technology, The Treatment & How it Fits Into Your Medical Practice, available for immediate download.


Topics: EPAT, Research, ESWT