Shock waves have been used in medicine since 1980’s, used to disintegrate kidney stones, for instance. Since the beginning of the 1990s, this area of application has become increasingly important and has since proven its worth, including in top international sports. Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive and effective treatment option for various musculoskeletal conditions, including heel pain.
It works by delivering high-energy shockwaves to the affected area, which promotes healing by increasing blood flow and stimulating the body’s natural regenerative processes. In the case of heel pain, shockwave therapy is particularly effective for plantar fasciitis, a common condition that occurs when the plantar fascia (a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot) becomes inflamed and painful. Shockwave therapy can help break down scar tissue, improve circulation, and stimulate the growth of new tissue, all of which can reduce pain and inflammation in the affected area.
Typically, 2,500 impulses are delivered through the skin as a shockwave that spreads inside the injured tissue as an aspherical ‘radial’ wave. These radial shockwaves initiate an inflammation-like response in the injured tissue that is being treated, and prompts the body to respond naturally by increasing blood circulation, the number of blood vessels and therefore metabolism in the injured tissue. The shockwaves break down injured tissue and any calcifications and start the healing process which has failed so far.
During shockwave therapy, we will use a handheld device to deliver shockwaves to various parts of your feet. The procedure typically takes around 15-20 minutes and may cause some discomfort during the treatment. Patients may require multiple sessions of shockwave therapy to achieve the best results.
While shockwave therapy is generally considered safe, it may not be suitable for everyone. Patients with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications may not be candidates for this treatment. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if shockwave therapy is the right treatment option for your heel pain. Some patients can experience an improvement in symptoms almost immediately, but it can take up to four to six weeks to see a significant benefit.
Our recommendation is for three treatments, once per week. We use the Storz radial shockwave unit, which is the recognized leader in the field.