Can Shockwave Therapy help with Plantar Fasciitis?
Updated: Aug 22
Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that, while initially created to break down kidney stones, has now been successfully applied to a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. Plantar fasciitis is a painful injury in the center of the foot that can be quite difficult to treat. Shockwave therapy is a relatively new treatment option for plantar fasciitis, but it shows promise in being safe and effective at treating the root cause of plantar fasciitis and proving long-term relief from the condition.
What Is Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave therapy involves the use of mechanical sound waves that are directly placed against the skin using a handheld probe. The soundwaves pass through the skin to the affected or injured area which can have a variety of effects that reduce pain and promote healing.
The painkilling effect appears to stem from direct stimulation of the pain receptors which sets off a cascade of effects resulting in an analgesic effect. The healing effect appears to stem from two different processes. The first is that the soundwaves promote blood flow to the area which can carry with it healing nutrients. The second comes from the soundwaves creating many tiny bubbles. When these pop, they can help to break up adhesions in the affected area, which can help it to heal.
How Can Shockwave Therapy Help With Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is the ligament at the bottom of your foot. It connects the heel bone to the toes and it helps to reinforce the arch of your foot as well as stiffening your foot when you walk. Plantar fasciitis is usually an overuse injury that occurs when repetitive strain is put on the plantar fasciitis. It often happens when you overexercise, start exercising on hard surfaces, or wear shoes without proper arch support. It can also be triggered by other conditions such as obesity. Plantar fasciitis is usually felt as pain in the heel and the sole of the foot and it gets worse when you're resting.
Plantar fasciitis can be resistant to conventional treatment, and in those cases, shockwave therapy has been shown to be a more effective treatment method. In one study the researchers found that at a one-year follow-up after shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis, 75% were completely cured, 20% were significantly better, 6% were slightly better, and 0% saw no change or got worse.
Another study found that in patients who had been living with plantar fasciitis for on average two years, shockwave therapy saw a 94% success rate at a 12-month follow-up. There were no adverse effects reported in either study.
Shockwave therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for plantar fasciitis that can work to relieve pain and disability even in patients for whom conventional treatments have failed. Shockwave therapy begins to work immediately by killing pain, but it also has long-term benefits due to its healing properties. This means that it doesn't just mask the symptoms of plantar fasciitis, but it can also treat the problem at its root cause and cure it.