Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)
When it comes to advanced professional care for heel pain, a leading technology is extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) – and we are proud to offer it here at Patel Podiatry!
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.