New Treatment for Chronic Heel Pain
WHAT IS ESWT?
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, also know as ESWT, is a non-surgical treatment option for the intense, persistent heel pain associated with chronic plantar fasciitis. "Extracorporeal" means "outside the body." Shockwaves, also known as pressure or sound waves, are generated by a special ESWT device, and focused onto the targeted tissue. The shock waves are delivered to stimulate and reactivate the body's repair mechanism to advance normal tissue healing.
WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR ESWT?
You and your doctor will decide if ESWT treatment is right for you after looking at all the options. You could be a candidate if you have been diagnosed with chronic plantar fasciitis for at least six months and if your symptoms have failed to respond to three conservative treatments which may include rest, physical therapy, heel cushions, non-steroidal medications (Motrin or other anti-inflammatories), cortisone injections, taping, orthotics, shoe modifications, night splinting and casting.
WHO SHOULD NOT RECEIVE ESWT?
ESWT is not recommended if you have a pacemaker, if you are taking medications that may prolong or interfere with blood clotting (coumadin) or if you are pregnant. Your health history will be reviewed by your physician at the time of your evaluation.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS TO ESWT?
Compared to invasive or endoscopic surgery, ESWT has fewer side effects and a much shorter recovery time. The most common side effects include temporary pain (bruising and soreness), swelling and redness on the bottom of the foot. These possible occurrences, however, usually clear within a few days. Moreover, the risk associated with surgical incisions and general anesthesia is eliminated.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING TREATMENT?
On the day of the procedure, you will arrive at the treatment location where Dr DiTrolio will administer local anesthetic to your foot and ankle. You will recline in a comfortable chair and roll you pants or slacks up to the knee. Once your doctor feels your foot is "numb", both he and the technician will position the machine near your foot. Utilizing an ultrasound imaging system, a "live" picture of your foot will be observed to ensure the target area is being treated. During the treatment, several thousand shockwaves will be focused at the point of maximum tenderness over the course of 20-30 minutes.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE TREATMENT?
Patients that have undergone ESWT may return to their pre-treatment activity levels following the procedure. However it is suggested that patients consider a 24 hour recovery period post treatment. You may begin to feel relief immediately or it could take from three to six months to improve.
WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED RESULTS?
Dr DiTrolio likes the fact that the procedure is low risk and non-invasive. In studies in Europe, where shock wave has been administered for over 10 years, patients with chronic plantar fasciitis related 80% successful outcome with just one treatment. Recent studies show an even higher success rate.
See our ESWT FAQ page for more ESWT answers!