Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy also known as ESWT is a noninvasive option for pain relief from heel pain that is particularly associated with plantar fasciitis. Originally developed to dissolve kidney stones, this procedure involves shockwaves, or sound waves, being directed from outside the body and can be directed onto the heel of the foot. Sending shockwaves into a patient’s foot is intended to stimulate the speed up of the body’s own healing process. ESWT is also capable of over-stimulating nerves, reducing sensitivity and pain in the foot.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy is designed to be a noninvasive alternative to heal foot pain. There are many other non-evasive, non-surgical options that are also intended to reduce heel pain and repair the condition of plantar fasciitis. Other methods and treatments include rest, physical therapy, heel cushions, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc), cortisone injections, taping, shoe modifications, night splinting and casting. Among the most popular and most successful treatments is using an orthotic shoe insert.
To begin the Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT), the patient will arrive at the treatment center and meet their doctor along with an ESWT technician. The patient is reclined, either in a chair or on a bed, as the technician begins to administer the shockwaves into the area of the inflamed fascia. During this 20 minute procedure, thousands of shock waves are sent into the heel of the foot. After the procedure is over, the patient is free to go home.
Although there are some proven beneficial results from Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT), the procedure is not for everyone, and alternative healing methods may prove to be a much better option. Initially, a physician usually recommends ESWT in cases where the patient has suffered for a substantial amount of time from chronic plantar fasciitis. ESWT is not administered to patients who have pacemakers or who are taking certain medications. Additionally, children and women who are pregnant are also not advised to use this method of treatment. It is used primarily as a last measure, if other conservative treatments are unsuccessful, to stop heel pain in order to avoid surgery.
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