Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a non-surgical treatment now available at Podiatry Care. Radial shock wave therapy using the Dolorclast method has recently been approved by the FDA for the treatment of chronic heel pain or plantar fasciitis.

What is ESWT used for?

Plantar fasciitis or plantar fasciosis (or heel spur syndrome) is the most common cause of heel pain and foot pain encountered by Podiatrists and foot specialists.

Plantar fasciitis is a common condition thought to be caused by degenerative changes or overuse injury to the plantar fascia, a thick band of connective tissue which originates just beneath the heel bone and runs all the way along the sole of the foot to the toe joints.

For more information on heel pain, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis please visit Plantar Fasciitis and heel spurs. When most other conservative treatments fail to provide sufficient relief in the treatment of plantar fasciitis heel pain then Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is an option which should be considered. ESWT has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of chronic heel pain caused by plantar fasciosis.

Treatment using ESWT can be radial or focused. Radial shock wave therapy has been found to be most beneficial in the treatment of plantar fasciitis and pain around heel spurs. This treatment has been used with great success in clients who have found other conservative measures insufficient.

Up to 95 percent of heel pain sufferers respond well to other conservative measures such as foot orthotics, specific stretching exercises, shoe modifications, heel cushions, taping, night splinting or bracing, casting, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, etc) and cortisone injections. Radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy has recently proven beneficial where other treatments have failed.

When should Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy be used?

Previously it was recommended that patients considering undergoing ESWT treatment, the patient must have been diagnosed with chronic plantar fasciitis for at least six months. Recently, we have found that this is not the case. Radial shock wave therapy has been used on clients suffering for lesser periods with great success at Podiatry Care. It is now seen as a real alternative to orthotic therapy in some situations. Each case must be assessed individually.

How does ESWT help heel pain?

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy uses shockwaves generated from a special ESWT device. The shockwaves are then applied to the painful area in a measured dosage for a specific time. Extracorporeal radial shock wave therapy enhances the normal individual’s own repair mechanisms in an effort to repair the injured heel and alleviate the associated pain.

The concept behind shockwave therapy is that the shockwave stimulates and reactivates healing by improving blood flow and nutrition to the injured area. The result of this is improved tissue healing.

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy also helps to over-stimulate pain transmission nerves, which decreases the individual's sensitivity to pain.

Contraindications of ESWT as a treatment modality.

ESWT treatment should never be used in the following cases:

  • Patients with pacemakers;
  • Patients taking medications that may prolong or interfere with blood clotting (coumadin) are not candidates for ESWT.
  • Patients with tumours; and
  • Children or pregnant women are not considered appropriate candidates for ESWT. ESWT is not appropriate for individuals suffering from acute plantar fasciitis. If your plantar fasciitis is less than four weeks old, other conservative treatment measures should be exhausted prior to considering Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy.
  • WARNING : This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist, your Doctor or your foot specialist.

    Still have a question about your foot problem, leg pain or you just need some footwear advice?

    Visit our Foot Problems page and ask us a question about your specific problem. We'll do our best to help.

    To find a Podiatrist or Foot Doctor near you visit our Find a Podiatrist page and click on your country.

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