Background Conflicting reports in the literature have raised the question whether radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (rESWT) devices and vibrating massage devices have similar energy signatures and, hence, cause similar bioeffects in treated tissues. Methods and Findings We used laser fiber optic probe hydrophone (FOPH) measurements, high-speed imaging and x-ray film analysis to compare fundamental elements of the energy signatures of two rESWT devices (Swiss DolorClast; Electro Medical Systems, Nyon, Switzerland; D-Actor 200; Storz Medical, Tagerwillen, Switzerland) and a vibrating massage device (Vibracare; G5/General Physiotherapy, Inc., Earth City, MO, USA). To assert potential bioeffects of these treatment modalities we investigated the influence of rESWT and vibrating massage devices on locomotion ability of Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) worms. Results FOPH measurements demonstrated that both rESWT devices generated acoustic waves with comparable pressure and energy flux density. Furthermore, both rESWT devices generated cavitation as evidenced by high-speed imaging and caused mechanical damage on the surface of x-ray film. The vibrating massage device did not show any of these characteristics. Moreover, locomotion ability of C. elegans was statistically significantly impaired after exposure to radial extracorporeal shock waves but was unaffected after exposure of worms to the vibrating massage device. Conclusions The results of the present study indicate that both energy signature and bioeffects of rESWT devices are fundamentally different from those of vibrating massage devices.