Shockwave Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

If you’ve experienced plantar fasciitis, you know that the pain it causes can be nearly debilitating. The primary symptom of the condition is sharp pain in the heel that is often worse after a time of rest. For example, pain may be severe in the morning when getting out of bed. Dealing with plantar fasciitis can be frustrating because it can be difficult to find the right treatment to quickly resolve painful symptoms. At Northeastern Foot & Ankle, we offer several options. Here, we discuss extracorporeal shockwave therapy and how it may help relieve painful symptoms sooner rather than later.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Each foot has a band of tissue that runs along the sole from the heels to the toes. This is the plantar fascia. Overuse or other factors may cause this tissue to become tight or inflamed. Historically, inflammation has been addressed with specific types of stretching, supportive footwear or insoles, medication, and, for more severe or prolonged cases, cortisone injections. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is a more high-tech approach. 

What is Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy is a modality that delivers sound waves in short pulses into an area of the body. The sound waves produce a kind of controlled micro-injury in soft tissue for the purpose of stimulating a healing response. This technology spurs healing by stimulating an increase in blood circulation through the plantar fascia and also reducing the thickness of the band of tissue. 

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is performed somewhat like an ultrasound. The provider applies a gel to the bottom of the foot where pain is most intense. The gel facilitates the conductivity of the sound waves during the procedure. A special applicator is then applied to the area, where it delivers bursts of sound waves for a few minutes. Patients may feel a snapping sensation as bursts occur. This may be mildly uncomfortable but it usually fades as treatment continues. Treatment may improve comfort right away for some patients. Others may need subsequent sessions to achieve gradual improvement. Studies suggest that a series of three treatments spaced a few weeks apart can achieve significant results. 

Plantar fasciitis can require a long road to full recovery. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy may shorten that journey. To learn more about this treatment, contact our Passaic, NJ office at (973) 473-6665.