How does shock wave therapy help treat plantar fasciitis?

Christopher Chiodo, MD
Orthopedic Surgery

Some foot care specialists have begun using extracorporeal shock wave therapy to treat plantar fasciitis. Shock wave treatment entails one to three sessions during which  low or high-energy sound waves are directed at the painful part of the plantar fascia. This technique is similar to the one used to break up kidney stones, but does not direct sufficient energy at the foot to break up the heel bone or any heel spurs.

Some studies have reported that the technique relieves pain in 60% to 80% of those treated, while causing only minimal complications or side effects, which can include periodic pain in the treated area. Other studies have shown only limited benefit. This technique is gaining acceptance, however. Talk with your own foot care specialist about the latest research and whether shock wave treatment is right for you. Also be aware that many health insurers do not cover this technology, so you may want to check your own coverage before undergoing treatment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.