MST vs Shockwave and TENS

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Shockwave therapy and TENS are both popular and widely available treatments for musculoskeletal pain. In this article we take a look at how these therapies compare with Magnetic Shockwave Therapy (MST).

How do they work?

Shockwave – A high energy, acoustic wave of pressure is fired into the tissue, promoting repair and regeneration of the tissues.

TENS – Sticky pads called electrodes are placed on the skin, and small, low voltage electrical impulses are delivered to the affected area. This stimulates nerves in the area and offers short term pain relief.

MST – An electromagnetic field is generated in an insulated coil held next to the skin, which stimulates the nerves deep within the muscle, causing it to contract and sending massive calming signals through the nervous system to the brain.

Are there any risks involved?

Shockwave – There are many risks of shockwave therapy if it is applied incorrectly. Damage to major blood vessels, nerves, organs and growth plates of bones mean that there are limits to where it can be used. For example, due to the proximity of the lungs, heart and major blood vessels, shockwave cannot be used on the upper back, shoulder blades, chest or neck. It also cannot be used on people with blood clotting conditions, joint replacements or cancer, or on pregnant women.

TENS – Although very safe, TENS must not be used if you have any implanted electrical devices, such as a pacemaker. It is also not suitable for people with epilepsy.

MST – Similar to TENS, due to the electrical nature of the treatment MST should not be used on people with metal or electrical implants. It is also not recommended during pregnancy or in people with epilepsy. It can, however, be used anywhere on the body, including the chest, upper back and even the neck.

Are they painful?

Shockwave – The patient may find the treatment uncomfortable, however the treatment is fairly short so most people are able to tolerate the pain.

TENS – It is not usually considered painful. Most people report a slight tingling sensation underneath the electrodes.

MST – This is a pain free treatment. People will experience contractions in the muscles being targeted, but this is almost never reported as uncomfortable or painful.

Are they effective?

Shockwave – There is good evidence that shockwave therapy can be effective for a number of conditions, such as tendinopathies and shin splints, with a lasting effect.

TENS – Studies suggest that it can offer effective short term pain relief for some people, although the effect usually goes away straight after treatment.

MST – Initial studies have found it to be effective at offering long term relief from musculoskeletal conditions such as low back and neck/shoulder pain. Evidence also suggests that it can be helpful with neurological conditions, such as trapped nerves and even stroke rehabilitation.

How many sessions will I need?

Shockwave – According to the official site of shockwave therapy Europe, people usually require 3-5 sessions, although people with more complex or chronic conditions may require a longer course of treatment.

TENS – Rather than a series of treatments, TENS devices are often sold to patients so that they can take them home and use them as required.

MST – This will depend on the condition being treated. Simple pain issues may resolve after 1 or 2 sessions, while more complex issues may require a longer course of treatment.


Shockwave therapy and MST both appear to offer long term relief from a number of conditions, however the risks involved with shockwave mean that its use is much more limited. MST can be used anywhere on the body, and with far fewer safety risks than shockwave, which we believe gives it a significant advantage. MST also acts on the nervous system, as opposed to the local tissue approach of shockwave, which gives it the potential to treat a wider range of issues. TENS differs from the other two, as it is simply a short term method of pain relief, although the advantage that it has is that it can be self-administered.

To find out whether you would be suitable for MST, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our friendly team.

All information on shockwave therapy gathered from and

Information on TENS gathered from

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