Have you been told that you have Plantar Fasciitis? This painful condition is often misdiagnosed, and treatments such as orthotics and steroid injections only have a limited benefit. However, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) has been proven to help relieve the pain. Let’s take a closer look.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is a distressing condition that causes shooting pains in the foot and heel. It is common – affecting around 10% of people at some point – and happens when the plantar fascia ligament along the bottom of your foot experiences inflammation. As the ligament has a minimal blood supply, it can take some time to heal, so becomes increasingly weakened and inflamed over time, which leads to further pain and even additional tearing. It can be left undiagnosed for years and tends to affect middle-aged people, although runners, athletes and younger people who stand a lot in their jobs or who walk regularly can get it too.
Shockwave therapy treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy, or ESWT for short, releases shockwaves directly into the affected part of the foot, which helps to kick-start the body’s natural healing process. Doctors believe it creates very minimal trauma in the tissue which leads the body to quickly heal itself in response.
How effective is shockwave therapy at treating Plantar Fasciitis?
These types of shockwaves have been used to safely treat kidney stones for two decades, but this new research is now showing how ESWT can help with the healing of ligaments and tendons, and the rate of success with the treatment is around 80%.
When is shockwave therapy an appropriate treatment?
This treatment appears to be most valuable for patients who have experienced Plantar Fasciitis for longer periods of at least six months, and up to one year. At this point, the natural healing processes have stopped, leaving the patient in severe pain. The ESWT shockwave treatment will kick-start the necessary inflammation process, so that the healing process continues and fully completes.
What happens at – and after – the treatment?
ESWT only takes a few minutes on each affected foot and no anaesthetic is required. Three treatments are usually needed and the ligament then heals over the next 2-4 months until the pain has subsided.