ESWT is a non-invasive adjunctive treatment for patients experiencing chronic heel pain such as plantar fasciopathy (heel spurs) or Achilles tendinopathy. Clinical trials have proven ESWT to be 80% effective in the treatment of heel pain.
Indications for EWST
In the podiatry setting ESWT has been found to be effective in the treatment of:
- plantar fasciopathy (heel spurs)
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Peroneal tendinopathy
In most instances three (3) treatments spaced a week apart will be required to successfully treat the majority of patients. Some patients may require additional treatment if there is not sufficient energy given in three (3) visits.
Treatment with ESWT is very simple. The affected area of the body is positioned against the head of the ESWT machine and the converted shockwaves, or energy pulses, are then applied to the affected area. The number and strength of the pulses given depends on the patient and the area being treated, but a certain amount of energy needs to be delivered in order for the treatment to be effective.
Patients commonly describe a ‘flicking’ sensation during treatment. This is usually tolerable; however, pain levels can increase closer to bone. The intensity of the shockwaves may be altered if necessary to improve your comfort level.
What are the possible side effects of treatment?
Following treatment it is quite common for patients to experience an exacerbation of symptoms. Please avoid anti-inflammatory medication during the treatment interval, however, Paracetamol may be taken for pain relief. Some localised bruising may occur and ice applied to the area usually eases discomfort.
What other treatment may be required as well as EWST?
Depending on your diagnosed condition your Podiatrist may also recommend that one or more of the following are included into your treatment regime:
- Ice – helps reduce inflammation and gives some temporary pain relief
- Strapping – may help in the short term to protect and splint the foot
- Calf Stretches – the easiest way to stretch the calf muscle is to stand with the balls of your feet on a book keeping your heels on the ground. Your podiatrist will demonstrate how to perform this stretch
- Orthoses – these are a prescription in shoe device used to control the mechanical cause of your plantar fasciitis
- Steroids – your podiatrist may suggest steroid injections to help reduce inflammation in the plantar fascia