Plantar fasciitis is a painful and often frustrating condition – and one that becomes chronic in many cases. Painful heel syndrome, as it’s sometimes called, affects the heels of the feet and occurs in up to ten percent of the population at some point. It’s particularly prevalent among runners and people who walk or stand on their feet all day. When plantar fasciitis doesn’t respond to conservative therapy, some doctors recommend shockwave treatment for plantar fasciitis. Is this an effective way to treat the symptoms?
Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis: How Does It Compare?
Shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis involves hitting the heels with focused waves of energy. These waves “shock” the feet, which stimulates the body’s natural healing response. Shockwave therapy may involve high-energy waves or low-energy ones. Most doctors recommend low-energy shock wave therapy, because high-energy shockwaves are painful enough to require anesthesia.
Consider saving your money if your doctor recommends low-energy shockwave therapy to treat plantar fasciitis. In a recent study comparing low-energy shockwave treatment to three times daily stretching exercises, stretching solidly beat out low-energy shockwave therapy for symptom reduction. Only 29% of people experienced relief after shockwave therapy compared to 65% of those who used stretching exercises to treat plantar fasciitis.
According to Dr. Judy Baumhauer, president-elect of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, 80% of her own patients respond to simple stretching exercises. Stretching increases ligament flexibility, which reduces the pain and inflammation so many plantar fasciitis sufferers are forced to deal with. Wearing arch supports and applying ice to the heels twice a day are also good drug-free ways to relieve the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
Shockwave Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis: The Bottom Line?
Don’t be too quick to sign up for low-energy shockwave treatment for plantar fasciitis. Simple stretching exercises to increase flexibility of the ligaments may be more effective – and it’s certainly less expensive and more convenient. You can find written instructions and videos demonstrating how to do stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis online ‘” or ask your doctor. Doing these exercises consistently and wearing arch supports may be all you need to get back on track when you have plantar fasciitis.
Eurekalert.org. “Plantar Fasciitis? Stretching seems to do the trick”
Emedicine.com. “Plantar Fasciitis”