Shockwave Therapy for Heel Pain

What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave Therapy is a non-surgical method of reducing heel pain. The device Dr. Rameas use produces pulses of energy that travel through the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-healing process. Inflamed soft tissue and bone calcifications that receive these high energy pulses will heal stronger, without harm to the surrounding tissues.

Who can benefit from Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave Therapy is especially beneficial for patients that have chronic heel pain and have not had much success with traditional therapies such as medications, orthotics, injections or physiotherapy. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, heel spur syndrome or Achilles tendonitis, you are a candidate for this treatment.

Does it involve injections or medications? Are there side effects?

With Shockwave Therapy, there is no surgery, no anesthesia, no injections and no medication involved. Some patients may experience a short period of slight tingling, warmth or numbness immediately after their treatment.

What is the treatment process?

The procedure is performed in our office. After an evaluation of your medical history, we will carry out a simple manual examination of the painful area. The trigger point, or sore area over the heel will be located and marked. Ultrasonic transmission gel is applied to the foot. The Shockwave Therapy hand piece is then positioned to gently and extensively transmit shockwaves over the injured area. The feedback you provide helps to determine the fine positioning of the applicator and the measurement of the impulse frequency. Once you are comfortable at a low level, the energy is gradually increased over several minutes.

A typical session lasts about 15 minutes. You will require one session per week for three weeks.

How quickly can you achieve results?

Most patients will notice improvement after the first treatment, however, overall healing continues for 3 months after the last treatment. Success rates with this treatment is approximately 70-80%.

About Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis

What causes heel pain?

The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band that supports the arch of the foot. It extends as a bowstring from the heel to the ball of the foot. The plantar fascia is relatively inelastic and does not stretch very well. Increased tension and overuse causes pulling and irritation at its attachment to the heel. This will occur most often in people who have structural problems with their feet, such as high arches or flat feet. Overuse of your feet, such as with those who are required to work long hours walking or standing on hard surfaces, are more likely to suffer from heel pain. Overuse associated with sports such as running, racquet sports and golf may increase your chance of developing heel pain. Weight gain and tight muscles contribute to the tension in the plantar fascia and make you more prone to its irritation. As well, improper shoe gear can encourage poor foot alignment and contribute to heel pain.

What are the symptoms?

The main sign of plantar fasciitis is pain or stiffness on the bottom of the heel when first standing. The pain is often in the bottom inside edge of the heel, but can occur anywhere. Patients often report that the pain moves around to different areas and can range from a dull ache to a debilitating sharp pain. The condition may come and go or be persistent for months to years.

What about heel spurs?

Long standing irritation can cause formation of calcium deposits at the point where the plantar fascia inserts into the heel bone. The result is the appearance of a heel spur on an x-ray. The spur itself is not the cause of pain. The terms heel spur syndrome and plantar fasciitis are often used interchangeably in medicine, and the cause and treatment for the conditions are the same.

What is Achilles tendonitis?

The Achilles tendon is the major tendon that attaches the large calf muscle to the heel bone. The back of the heel is the second most common location for heel pain. Achilles tendonitis occurs as pain and inflammation at the insertion of the Achilles tendon. It may also occur as a bursitis often associated with a "pump bump", or Haglund's deformity.

Shockwave Therapy has been shown to be a highly effective surgical alternative in the treatment of insertional Achilles tendonitis.

What other treatments are available for heel pain?

The majority of patients who develop heel pain will improve significantly in a short time with combination of the following conservative treatments:

Controlling the position of the foot through:
  • Proper shoe gear
  • Taping the foot
  • Heel pads
  • Night splints
  • Custom orthotics or arch supports
Reducing inflammation through:
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Injection of corticosteroid medication
  • Massage
  • Physiotherapy
  • Achieving and Maintaining flexibility with
  • Stretching
  • Range of motion exercises
In the past, for those patients who failed the benefit from the above-mentioned treatments, surgery was the only approach left to treat this condition. However, with the availability of the new Shockwave Therapy technology, there is now an effective non-surgical method to reduce heel pain.