PLANTAR FASCIITIS AND ESWT (EXTRACORPOREAL SHOCK WAVE THERAPY)

What does plantar fasciitis feel like? “Sort of the same as someone picking up my foot, grabbing a thick piece of wood and slamming it repeatedly into my sole,” said a college basketball player who ended up sidelined most of the season due to debilitating pain.  But it’s not just athletes who receive this diagnosis. According to a 2003 study by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery,at least ten percent of the population receives this diagnosis at some point in their lives. If you’re reading this now, you are likely one of roughly 2million Americans grappling with this painful condition.

Where is the plantar fascia? Your plantar fascia is a band of tissue that stretches from your heel to the middle of your foot. It provides essential support to the arch of your foot helps absorb shock when you are standing.

What exactly is plantar fasciitis? Simply put, plantar fasciitisis a condition wherein the tissue on the sole of one’s foot becomes inflamed. This was likely caused by repeated small injuries from over-use. Commonly, this injury originates where the plantar fascia connects to the heel bone. For this reason, the condition is sometimes called a “heel spur,” and many decades before physicians truly understood this phenomenon, the condition was referred to as “policeman’s heel”—as city police officers who “walked the beat” patrolling local neighborhoods often complained of foot pain.

The good news is that after conservative therapies have been exhausted, there is a safe, simple procedure offered by most podiatrists. It is called extracorporeal shockwave therapy, or ESWT. This has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Where did this therapy originate? In the late 1980s medical researchers devised a technique to remove stones lodged in patients’ kidneys. When shock waves, or pressure waves, were directed at the kidneys, stones would fragment into tiny pieces. The smaller pieces could then safely pass through the body. This innovative therapy revolutionized the treatment of kidney stones. No longer did patients require major surgical intervention and its potential complications, including postoperative pain, abdominal scarring and weeks of bed rest.  A decade later, physicians realized this medical therapy could be applied to other parts of the body with similar beneficial results.

How does my podiatrist use ESWT?The soles of your feet are made up mostly of connective tissues, which are called fibroblasts and tenocytes. When sound waves are administered to the soles of your feet, the pulses penetrate the tendonous tissue of the foot, stimulating repair. In other words, these shock waves reanimate your connective tissues, which initiate the healing process.

What should you expect?

ESWT is not an experimental therapy. It is a sound medical intervention with proven results.

It is an outpatient procedure that is usually pain-free.

This is a non-invasive procedure. No incisions or needles are necessary.

It usually lasts about 30 minutes.

Medicare usually covers the cost of the procedure once every six months.

Some patients may require repeat treatments for complete pain relief.