Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

By Nordic Balance

Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a unique and innovative treatment option for various musculoskeletal conditions. It stands out for its remarkable effectiveness in managing Plantar Fasciitis, a common overuse injury often experienced by runners.


But first, what is Shockwave Therapy? 


Approved by NICEShockwave Therapy works by passing short, intense sound waves into affected tissues. The sound waves increase blood flow with an analgesic effect, putting the cells into repair mode and allowing the body to restart its accelerated healing process.


The therapy prompts increased blood flow, fibrous scar tissue breakdown, and cell regeneration and tissue repair stimulation.


Unlike traditional treatments, Shockwave Therapy is a non-invasive approach that directly addresses the pathology of musculoskeletal conditions. It does so without needing medication or surgery, making it a safe and effective option.


Integration with manual treatments by physiotherapists and osteopaths is a key factor in its effectiveness. This comprehensive approach to rehabilitation enhances the therapy’s benefits, potentially leading to better and faster results.



The Process of Shockwave Therapy


Shockwave Therapy involves several steps, beginning with a qualified therapist assessing the affected area.


During treatment, the device is positioned on the skin over the painful area, and acoustic waves are emitted through a gel medium.


The process is relatively quick, typically lasting 5 to 10 minutes per session.


Shockwave Therapy is often part of a broader treatment plan, complementing manual therapies such as physio, massage, mobilisation, and stretching exercises.


Physiotherapists and osteopaths may integrate Shockwave Therapy with these techniques more effectively than standalone treatments to enhance tissue healing, reduce pain, and improve function.


Shockwave Therapy’s Efficacy for Plantar Fasciitis


Since November 2005, NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) has listed Shockwave Therapy as an effective treatment for Plantar Fasciitis in its interventional procedure guidance.


Since 2010, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons has recommended Shockwave Therapy as the treatment of choice for Plantar Fasciitis with or without the presence of plantar ‘spurs’ (Thomas JL, Christensen JC, Kravitz SR., 2010)


What is Plantar Fasciitis? 


Plantar Fasciitis, characterised by sharp pain in the heel or the underside of the foot, is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot.


This condition is prevalent among runners due to the repetitive stress and impact on the foot. Factors contributing to Plantar Fasciitis include overuse, inadequate footwear, and biomechanical imbalances.


Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. Other common causes of heel pain are:


– A stress fracture of the heel bone (calcaneus)

– Osteoarthritis of the ankle or sub-talar joint

– Thinning of soft tissue over the heel

– Irritation of small nerves around the heel

– Inflammation of the tendons that pass under the foot


Although the onset of Plantar Fasciitis may sometimes seem spontaneous, it often follows an injury, such as a stumble or fall, or comes after a significant increase in activities like walking or running, particularly in intensity or distance.


Additionally, this condition can arise from the overuse or excessive strain on the fascia, which might be due to unfavourable biomechanics, inappropriate footwear exerting external pressure, or specific structural issues like a heel spur.


The structure and posture of your foot can also play a critical role in developing Plantar Fasciitis symptoms.


Upon examining your foot posture, we can provide tailored advice on specific stretches and strengthening exercises to alleviate pressure on your fascia and reduce discomfort.


In some cases, the recommendation may include using orthotic support to manage the condition effectively.


Treating Plantar Fasciitis with Shockwave Therapy


Evidence supports the efficacy of Shockwave Therapy in treating Plantar Fasciitis. Studies have shown that it can significantly reduce pain and improve function by promoting the healing of the plantar fascia.


The therapy’s ability to break down scar tissue, reduce inflammation, and stimulate cellular repair makes it an effective treatment option for Plantar Fasciitis, especially when traditional treatments have failed to provide relief.


The treatment strategy might include hands-on therapy, tailored exercises, guidance on selecting the right footwear, recommendations for adjusting physical activities, and applying Shockwave Therapy as appropriate.


The number of sessions required for Plantar Fasciitis varies depending on the severity of the condition. Generally, patients may undergo a series of 3 to 5 sessions.


This schedule allows the body to initiate the healing process between sessions. However, the exact number of treatments will depend on the individual’s response to therapy.


How long does it take to recover? 


Recovery from Plantar Fasciitis following Shockwave Therapy can vary.


Many patients experience significant improvements within a few weeks of treatment.


Full recovery, however, may take several months as the plantar fascia slowly heals.


While Shockwave Therapy is a powerful tool in your recovery from Plantar Fasciitis, your active participation is equally crucial. Complementing the therapy with specific exercises, adequate rest, and appropriate footwear not only expedites your recovery but also empowers you to take control of your healing journey, preventing recurrence and ensuring a pain-free future.


Shockwave Therapy is a promising treatment for Plantar Fasciitis. It offers pain relief and accelerated healing without requiring invasive procedures.


For individuals, especially active runners, who are seeking relief from the debilitating pain of Plantar Fasciitis, Shockwave Therapy offers a beacon of hope.


By targeting the root cause of the condition and enhancing the body’s natural healing processes, this therapy, in conjunction with manual therapy techniques, can significantly improve outcomes, allowing you to return to your regular activities pain-free.


If you are suffering from Plantar Fasciitis and want more information about treatment options, including Shockwave Therapy, visit our physical therapy clinics in St James’sClapham, and Wimbledon to discuss the best course of action.

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