Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a non-invasive way to bring relief to those suffering from heel pain because of plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a wide piece of tissue at the bottom of the foot that becomes stiff and inflamed over time. For some patients, a change in orthotics and certain exercises can alleviate the pain. For others, therapies such as ESWT may be necessary.
There are several possible causes for plantar fasciitis. These include:
Patients with mild or singular cases of plantar fasciitis may get relief with some of the more conservative treatments, such as custom orthotics, physical therapy, or steroid injections. The steroid injections can provide temporary relief, but they can weaken the tendons over time and cannot be used over the long term. Surgery may be required for severe chronic cases of plantar fasciitis. However, ESWT treatment offers a solid alternative for many patients rather than surgery.
During the procedure, the surgeon finds the tender area of the heel and marks it with an X. A gel is applied to the heel, which will help the acoustic waves travel better through your skin. The shockwave probe is applied to the tender area of the heel, and the shockwaves are sent through the tissue into the heel. When finished, the gel is wiped off and the patient can go home as normal.
The shockwaves stimulate the inflamed tissue, increasing blood flow and oxygen to the area. This decreases inflammation and promotes natural healing. Most patients can heal in about four visits of about 20 minutes each and can experience pain relief almost immediately.