Shockwave Therapy (SWT) and Pelvic Floor Dysfunctions

By Shannon Strauch, PTA, STMT-1 on 7/10/2024

shockwave therapy

Shockwave therapy, also known as extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), is a non-invasive treatment method that uses acoustic waves to treat various musculoskeletal conditions. Here’s a detailed explanation of what shockwave therapy is, how it can help with pelvic floor muscle dysfunctions, and the specific pelvic floor issues it can address:

What is Shockwave Therapy?

  1. Mechanism

    : Shockwave therapy involves the delivery of high-energy sound waves to affected tissues. These acoustic waves stimulate the body's natural healing processes.

  2. Types of Shockwaves


    • Focused Shockwaves (FSWT)

      : These are targeted to specific areas and penetrate deeper into tissues.

    • Radial Shockwaves (RSWT)

      : These spread out over a broader area and are typically used for more superficial conditions.

  3. Procedure

    : The treatment is performed using a handheld device that generates shockwaves. The device is applied to the skin over the affected area, and the waves penetrate the tissues to promote healing.

How Can Shockwave Therapy Help Pelvic Floor Muscle Dysfunctions?

  1. Tissue Regeneration

    : Shockwave therapy promotes the regeneration of damaged tissues by stimulating the production of collagen and the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis).

  2. Pain Reduction

    : The therapy can help reduce pain by decreasing inflammation and disrupting pain receptor activity in the treated area.

  3. Muscle Relaxation

    : It can help relax tight or overactive muscles by increasing blood flow and reducing muscle tension.

  4. Nerve Regeneration

    : Shockwaves can stimulate nerve regeneration and improve nerve function, which is crucial for proper muscle control and coordination.

Pelvic Floor Issues that Shockwave Therapy Can Help

  1. Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS)

    • Symptoms

      : Persistent pain in the pelvic region, discomfort during urination, and pain during sexual activity.

    • Treatment Benefits

      : Shockwave therapy can reduce pain and inflammation, improving overall pelvic function and quality of life.

  2. Pelvic Floor Muscle Tension

    • Symptoms

      : Overactive or tight pelvic floor muscles can lead to pain, urinary urgency, and difficulty with bowel movements.

    • Treatment Benefits

      : By relaxing the muscles and enhancing blood flow, shockwave therapy can alleviate muscle tension and associated symptoms.

  3. Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome (IC/PBS)

    • Symptoms

      : Chronic bladder pain, frequent urination, and urgency.

    • Treatment Benefits

      : Shockwave therapy can help reduce bladder and pelvic pain, improving symptoms and bladder function.

  4. Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

    • Symptoms

      : Inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.

    • Treatment Benefits

      : Shockwave therapy can enhance blood flow to the penis and improve erectile function, especially in cases where ED is related to pelvic floor muscle dysfunction or vascular issues.

  5. Urinary Incontinence

    • Symptoms

      : Involuntary leakage of urine, especially during activities like coughing, sneezing, or exercising.

    • Treatment Benefits

      : By strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and improving their function, shockwave therapy can help reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence.

  6. Dyspareunia (Painful Intercourse)

    • Symptoms

      : Pain during or after sexual intercourse.

    • Treatment Benefits

      : Shockwave therapy can help reduce muscle tension and pain, improving sexual function and comfort.

Procedure and Considerations

  1. Assessment

    : A thorough assessment by a healthcare provider specializing in pelvic health is essential to determine if shockwave therapy is appropriate.

  2. Sessions

    : Treatment typically involves several sessions, each lasting about 20-30 minutes. The exact number of sessions depends on the condition being treated and its severity.

  3. Side Effects

    : Shockwave therapy is generally safe, with minimal side effects. Some patients may experience mild discomfort, redness, or swelling in the treated area.

  4. Combination Therapy

    : Shockwave therapy can be combined with other treatments, such as pelvic floor physical therapy, to enhance outcomes.


Shockwave therapy is a promising non-invasive treatment option for various pelvic floor muscle dysfunctions. By promoting tissue regeneration, reducing pain, and improving muscle function, it can address conditions such as chronic pelvic pain syndrome, muscle tension, interstitial cystitis, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and dyspareunia. A thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional is crucial to determine the suitability and develop a comprehensive treatment plan. Looking to optimize your well being with pelvic floor physical therapy? Reach out to us at Pelvic Health Center in Madison, NJ to set up an evaluation and treatment! Feel free to call us at 908-443-9880 or email us at

Read More: