Med Sci Monit. 2022 Jun 11;28:e936614. doi: 10.12659/MSM.936614.
BACKGROUND Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a modern physiotherapeutic method that is useful for treating musculoskeletal conditions. There are still limited data from well-designed studies evaluating the clinical efficiency of ESWT in low back pain (LBP). Therefore, this study aimed to assess the effectiveness of the focused ESWT (fESWT) in reducing pain and improving the functional status of patients with chronic LBP. MATERIAL AND METHODS The study involved 40 patients with L5-S1 discopathy with chronic LBP pain who were randomized into 2 groups: group A (n=20, mean age of 42.3±13.1 years) and group B (n=20, mean age of 45.4±14 years). Group A was an experimental group treated with an fESWT at the lumbar and sacral spine (0.15 mJ/mm², 1000 pulses, 4 Hz). Group B was a control group, treated with a sham fESWT. The treatment protocol in both groups included identical stabilization training (45 minutes, once a day, 5 days a week). Study outcomes included subjective pain with a visual analog scale (VAS) and Laitinen Pain Scale (LPS), and functional status using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Measurements were made before and after treatments, as well as follow-up observations at 1 and 3 months following ESWT. The study was prospectively registered at the ISRCTN registry platform (no. ISRCTN13785224). RESULTS There was a significant analgesic effect (VAS and LPS) in both groups; however, it was significantly greater in the experimental group compared to the sham group (P<0.05). A more significant decrease in the perceived pain (VAS and LPS) was observed immediately after the active fESWT therapy. In follow-up observations (after 1 and 3 months), there were no significant between-group differences (P>0.05). Also, there was a significant effect in terms of functional state (ODI) for both groups (P<0.05); however, between-group comparisons revealed no statistically significant differences (P>0.05). CONCLUSIONS Focused ESWT with an exercise program can be effective in patients with chronic LBP. ESWT allows reducing pain, although it does not seem to significantly improve a patient’s functional state.