Shock Wave Therapy is non-invasive surgical procedure that uses sound waves to stimulate healing in some physical disorders, including plantar fasciitis. "Extracorporeal" means "outside the body" and refers to the way the therapy is applied. Because there is no incision, ESWT offers two main advantages over traditional surgical methods: fewer potential complications and a faster return to normal activity. ESWT has been used extensively for several years to treat plantar fasciitis and other disorders.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common form of heel pain. This painful condition results from inflammation of the plantar fascia – the connective tissue that stretches from the heel bone, across the arch, and to the base of the toes. Plantar fasciitis is sometimes called heel spur syndrome when a spur (bony protrusion) is present.
ESWT may be considered as a therapeutic option for the patient whose heel pain has not recovered with conservative treatment. Conservative measures include use of anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, ice packs, stretching exercises, orthotic devices, and physical therapy. Your doctor may order an MRI prior to treatment.
In preparation for ESWT, your doctor will instruct you to stop taking any anti-inflammatory medications (for example, aspirin or ibuprofen) for about 5 days before the procedure. It is important to avoid these medications because they are known to prolong bleeding under the surface of the skin. ESWT is performed on an outpatient basis, so it does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. The treatment lasts just a few minutes per foot. During the procedure sound waves penetrate the heel area and stimulate the healing response. A series of 4-7 treatments are required.
Studies show that ESWT is over 90% effective.
Most insurance companies do not cover this procedure.