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Pain Pract. 2018 Mar;18(3):380-387. doi: 10.1111/papr.12608. Epub 2017 Nov 23.

Radial Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy for Relief of Arthralgia in Rheumatoid Arthritis.

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Department of Pain Medicine, Peking University People's Hospital, Beijing, China.


More than one-third of the population with rheumatoid arthritis requires adjuvant analgesic treatment after antirheumatic therapy. In addition to analgesics, another option is radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (rESWT), a novel physical therapy that has been successfully used in the treatment of many types of chronic soft tissue pain. We report a series of 15 patients who suffered from arthralgia after being on disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs for more than 3 months. Participants received rESWT for 3 months as an adjuvant therapy. Compared to the pretherapy baseline, follow-up at 3 months post-therapy revealed a significant reduction in resting state visual analog scale scores from 2.90 ± 0.74 to 0.80 ± 0.79 (P = 0.004), active state visual analog scale scores from 5.70 ± 1.33 to 2.20 ± 0.63 (P < 0.001), morning stiffness duration from 2.25 ± 0.79 to 1.05 ± 0.69 hours (P = 0.004), disease activity score with 28-joint counts based on erythrocyte sedimentation rate from 6.34 ± 0.72 to 4.19 ± 0.59 (P = 0.001), and Health Assessment Questionnaire scores from 10.20 ± 2.35 to 5.00 ± 2.62 (P = 0.005). The pre-post changes in erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein were not statistically significant. By the end of treatment, 11 participants stopped analgesics completely; the other 4 participants were on a smaller dosage. No severe adverse effects related to rESWT were observed. To our knowledge, this is the first report using this therapy to treat arthralgia in rheumatoid arthritis.


arthralgia; radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy; rheumatoid arthritis


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