Let’s take a look at heel pain and why ESWT might be the right choice to make yours go away.
The Role of Soft Tissues in Heel Pain
Heel pain is a highly common problem for patients of all ages. In large part, this can be attributed to the simple fact your heel bone (calcaneus) is the anchor for two essential connective tissues – the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.
The Achilles anchors to the back of the calcaneus and connects it with your calf muscle. When you contract this muscle, it pulls the tendon and your foot points downward. Conversely, elongating the muscles pushes the Achilles and your foot points upward. If you think about it, these are the motions your foot goes through with every step.
Your plantar fascia connects the bottom of the heel to the bottom of your forefoot. In this way, it kind of acts like a bowstring and helps to support your foot arch. When this particular fascia becomes inflamed, it causes sharp heel pain. The pain tends to be most intense following the initial steps following periods of rest (and especially in the morning after a night’s sleep!)
Heel pain can disrupt your life and keep you from favorite activities. Fortunately, this is a treatable problem – one that usually doesn’t need surgery.
What is ESWT?
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is a noninvasive treatment wherein powerful—but painless—sonic waves are directed at the area of pain. "Extracorporeal" means "outside of the body," and is a key part of the noninvasive element of this procedure. (Put more simply, it means there is no need to cut open a surgical site to administer this treatment.)
The therapy itself is performed with the use of a device similar to one currently used in nonsurgical treatment of kidney stones. The applicator discharges high-energy acoustic waves (shockwaves) which travel down into the site of the injury and deliver mechanical force to the body’s tissues. In turn, this triggers and enhances the body’s natural healing processes at a cellular level. Improved healing can be attributed to increased blood flow and reduced inflammation in the injured area the result from this therapy.
Patients are typically able to bear weight after treatment, as opposed to other procedures wherein weight-bearing needs to be avoided. That said, we will likely recommend a reduction in physical activity for a week or two after treatment.
A Safe, Painless, and Effective Heel Pain Treatment
This advanced therapy is a safe, painless, and effective alternative treatment for heel pain, and only requires a very short recovery time. Complications from shockwave therapy are rare. Further, it can eliminate the need for costly and invasive surgical procedures.
A treatment session lasts about ten minutes and does not use an injection or needles. ESWT is performed on an outpatient basis and usually requires three treatment sessions.
Who Can Benefit from Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave therapy is prescribed for patients who have experienced injuries like plantar fasciitis for an extended period of time—six months or more—and have not found relief via other conservative treatments.
It is important to note that pregnant women, individuals with heart conditions or pacemakers, and people taking medications that interfere with blood clotting (such as Coumadin) are not candidates for ESWT. Additionally, those who have neuropathy, hypersensitivity in the target area, or open sores might also be excluded from this procedure.
Dr. Patel will discuss whether or not this treatment is appropriate for you.
Contact Patel Podiatry Today!
Contact us today to receive more information or to discuss the treatment options for extracorporeal shock wave therapy. Call our office at (203) 876-7736 to set up your consultation with Dr. Patel to determine if you will benefit from this innovative treatment option!