What is extracorporeal shockwave therapy?
Shockwave therapy is a nonsurgical method in which high energy pressure waves are used to cause irritation to an area of pain in order to increase a healing response. What signs indicate this therapy is needed? Shockwave therapy is typically used for Achille’s tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. Usually the symptoms experienced by the patient has occurred for six months or greater with little to no relief with conservative care. However, this type of treatment may be used much earlier to avoid cortisone injections and surgery.
How Does The Therapy Lead To Healing
When you have heel pain that has been around for a while, the body is in what we call protective mode. In protective mode, there is inflammation and pain in the area and the body is not sending healing cells to the area. So the area just stays inflamed and this is what we call chronic swelling or injury. The body has no intention of healing the area. In order for healing to start, we need to let the body know that there is a foot injury that needs help healing. With the shockwave, the area is irritated and the body then wakes back up and sends in healing cells to allow for removal of the swelling and pain. This is true natural healing by your body.
General Details of Procedure
The shockwave unit is an advanced device that applies high energy pressure or acoustic waves which are emitted from a probe that is pressed again the skin. Ultrasound gel with Biofreeze gel is used to help decrease any discomfort for the patient. Once the probe is applied to the skin the the treatments begin and the shockwave force will be applied to the area of pain. During this time the patient will have minimal discomfort as the procedure is completed.
What happens after the procedure?
After the procedure, the body will start the healing process. This will take some time. The patient will be dispensed a walking boot which will be used for one to two weeks. The patient will gradually transition into a regular shoe with custom orthotic supports. Patient is advised to not take any NSAID (eg Aleve, Ibuprofen) since the inflammatory response is desired to the area of pain. Tylenol can be taken for pain if the patient has no underlying health problems that would not allow the use of Tylenol. The patient may have several treatments over a few weeks. Pain will typically improve two to four months after the final treatment session. 82% of the patients attain relief from this noninvasive procedure.
When should I avoid this therapy?
Pediatric patients should not undergo this procedure due to the growth plates that are present in the heel. Pregnant women and anyone with an unstable heart condition should also avoid this procedure. Any kind of fracture that is not healed should avoid this type of therapy since the shockwave could exacerbate the condition. Consultation with your primary care doctor would be advised if you have any questions regarding your general medical problems and this therapy.
Stress fracture to the calcaneus is possible but very rare. Sensitivity to the procedure could occur but patients typically tolerate the sessions with minimal discomfort.
Please call today if you are interested in using this non-surgical technique to get rid of your heel pain. Call 813-875-0555 today to have the doctors of advanced podiatry help heal your pain.