If you've been trying to heal your plantar fasciitis with conservative therapy at home and having no success, you may worry that surgery is the only option. Before you decide to have an operation on your feet, make an appointment with a podiatrist such as Laurel Podiatry Associates to discuss extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), also known as lithotripsy. This treatment may heal the condition and help you avoid having foot surgery.
About Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy
Although the name of this treatment sounds like science fiction, you may already have heard of its success in regard to another type of medical condition -- the breaking up of kidney stones. The doctor directs high-energy sound waves to the stones; the waves create pressure shocks that break the stones into tiny pieces so they can pass through the urinary tract.
For plantar fasciitis and conditions such as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow, the shock waves seem to enhance the body's healing response in the affected area. They may improve circulation there, which can help a great deal with the healing process.
Research published in 2013 reviewed several earlier studies and verified the effectiveness of ESWT for treating plantar fasciitis. The treatment decreased morning pain, which is important since substantial morning heel pain is a hallmark of plantar fasciitis. ESWT also decreased overall foot pain and pain during activity, and the therapy improved functioning.
Are You a Good Candidate?
You are likely a good candidate for ESWT if you don't have neuropathy that affects your feet, heart problems or an uncontrolled seizure condition. Just to be safe, the podiatrist may not want to perform ESWT if you are pregnant, even though the sound waves are only directed to the feet.
The podiatrist decides which level of ESWT is best for your condition. If he or she uses high-energy waves on your feet, this can be painful, so a local anesthetic will be applied first. Lower-energy sound waves do not cause this problem.
You may need more than one session before you start noticing improvements.
Combine your current strategies, such as doing calf stretches and other exercises, with the ESWT for best results. However, you may be advised to reduce the amount of time you spend on your feet while the therapy is ongoing and for a couple of weeks after treatment ends.
What Can You Do Now?
Contact a podiatry clinic and explain your problem with plantar fasciitis. Express your interest in ESWT and set an appointment for an evaluation of your foot condition. Soon you should experience a significantly reduced level of foot pain so you can be more active again.