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What is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy?

shockwaveExtracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy or ESWT, is an evidence-based fast and non-surgical method of reducing heel pain. Shockwave was originally derived from lithotripsy, a technique used to break up kidney stones without invasive surgery. The device delivers pneumatically-generated high pressure shock waves that travel through the skin.

The inflamed soft tissue and bone calcifications (such as painful heel spurring) that receive these high energy pulses will heal stronger without harm to the surrounding tissues as the high energy pulsations of ultrasonic waves stimulate the body’s natural self-healing process.

Which of my conditions will benefit from ESWT?

ESWT (shockwave, as it is colloquially known) is particularly beneficial for patients with long-standing or chronic heel pain who have had little success with traditional therapies such as medications, orthotics, injections or physiotherapy.   If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, heel spur syndrome or Achilles tendinopathy, you are an ideal candidate for shockwave therapy.

Is it safe? Can anyone receive ESWT?

Shockwave is a very safe treatment, however is not recommended for use in children and adolescents under the age of 17, pregnant women, or people currently taking blood thinning medication.

Do I need an injection or special medication?

None whatsoever. There is no surgery, anaesthesia, injections or medication required with this treatment.

What does the treatment involve?

Shockwave is performed in our clinic rooms. After an assessment of your medical history, your Podiatrist will carry out a simple physical exam of the painful area. Once located, it will be marked and a special ultrasonic transmission gel is applied to the affected area.

The shockwave applicator is then placed to transmit shockwaves over the injured area. The feedback you give us will help with the 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.

How long does the treatment take?

A typical session will generally last around 15 or 20 minutes. You will require one session weekly for three to five weeks, although this may vary depending on the severity of your problem.

How soon can I expect results?

Most patients will notice improvement after the first treatment, however, overall healing continues for up to 3 months following the last treatment. Clinical studies have found ESWT to reduce pain by around 72% of when measured on a subjective pain scale. Similarly for Achilles tendinopathy, a clinical study determined that ESWT in conjunction with muscle exercises has an 82% success rate.

Are there any side effects with ESWT?

There are virtually no side effects with shockwave therapy since no medication, surgery, injections, or anaesthesia is involved. Some patients may experience a short period of slight tingling, warmth or numbness immediately following treatment but this is a short-term effect.

What are the symptoms of heel pain?

The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. One of the main symptom 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. The plantar fascia attaches to the heel. 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.

Why does plantar fasciitis develop?

The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band which supports the arch or in-step of your foot. It extends as an elastic structure from the heel to the ball of the foot. Increased tension and overuse can cause pulling and irritation at its attachment to the heel. This can often occur in people with structural problems in their feet, such as high arches or flat feet. People who 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.

What are 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 x- ray. The spur itself is not necessarily the cause of pain as often patients present with heel spurs and no pain. The terms heel spur syndrome and plantar fasciitis are often used interchangeably in medicine, and this is not correct. However, 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 tendinopathy occurs as pain and inflammation around the middle or attachment of the tendon as it attaches to the heel.

A soreness or bump may be present on either side of the insertion of the tendon. An X-ray will often show spurring and calcification in the tendon, particularly if it is a longstanding condition. Treatment is aimed at reducing the pressure and inflammation to the area in conjunction with orthotics and physiotherapy. If any of the symptoms above sound familiar to you and you’re interested in more information, give us a call on 9542 3491

We have HICAPS available in our clinic, which means that our patients can claim from their private health fund straight away

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Contact Us

Shop 2/17-19 East Parade
Sutherland, NSW 2232

Tel: 02 9542 3491
Email: info@sutherlandpodiatry.com.au