When patients have persistent pain in their heel or other areas of the foot, we will always pursue simple and conservative means of treatment if they may be effective. In some cases, however, a different form of treatment may be necessary. That’s where shockwave therapy may come in.

Shockwave therapy, sometimes also known as Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT), is an advanced treatment that we may recommend to patients who are not responding well to more traditional forms of treatment or who need a boost in kickstarting or accelerating their recovery.

What Is Shockwave Therapy?

shockwave therapy machineShockwave therapy is a non-invasive form of treatment designed to stimulate the body’s natural healing responses. Although “shock” is in the name, this treatment does not involve the use of electrical currents in the body whatsoever. The “shockwaves” are actually high-energy acoustic pressure waves.

When these waves are directed at the site of foot pain and soft tissue damage, they create a minor disruption. The body responds to this disruption in several beneficial ways:

  • Cellular activity increases. Your cells perform jobs faster, including growth and repair.
  • Blood flow to the area increases. With that extra blood comes more of the growth factors and nutrients your cells need to conduct their recovery work.
  • Reduction in pain. Pain relief comes from both temporarily blocking local pain transmissions as well as the expected relief that comes from healing.
  • Breakup of calcium deposits. Sometimes, healing can be impeded by calcium that builds up in micro-tears and other small injuries within tissues. Shockwave therapy can help break these deposits apart and allow healing to proceed with fewer obstacles.

Shockwave therapy is able to provide these benefits without the use of drugs or causing any damage to the skin.

What Conditions Can Shockwave Therapy Treat?

Shockwave therapy tends to be effective on painful conditions resulting from soft tissue damage. In the foot and ankle, this can include (among others):

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Ankle sprains
  • Neuromas
  • Other various sports injuries

Even chronic pain may benefit from shockwave therapy, as it can effectively “jumpstart” a cellular healing process that may have long ago slowed down. If the body is capable of healing more effectively, relief should follow with it.

We might also recommend shockwave therapy as an advanced option to potentially avoid the need for surgery. If a more conservative option than surgery can provide the results we need, it is worth considering.

Please note, however, that we will not always recommend shockwave for every situation as described above. Every case is different, as are the needs of every patient, and we only make recommendations following a thorough evaluation of both.

What Is Shockwave Therapy Like?

shockwave treatmentShockwave therapy is typically scheduled out over several sessions spanning several weeks. Each session tends to be quick, lasting less than 20 minutes. The overall session time will largely depend on what is being treated and its severity.

You do not need to prepare before each session. All you must do is come in and lie back. We will apply a gel to the treatment area to make better contact between it and the shockwave device, and then we will begin applying the therapy.

There may be some minor discomfort during the treatment. Some patients describe it as if a rubber band is being snapped against the skin. We can always make adjustments if the discomfort is too much, so do not hesitate to let us know!

Once a session is complete, we might recommend that you reduce activity and keep your foot elevated for the remainder of the day as much as possible. We can discuss other potential needs you may have before starting therapy.

Find the Relief You Need From Foot Pain

Whatever the cause of your heel, foot, or ankle pain may be, we always want to provide you with a path to treatment that best meets your needs. Whether that means shockwave therapy or another form of treatment, the first step is scheduling an appointment to better understand the problem.

Schedule an appointment at either of our offices by calling (414) 764-4500 for Oak Creek or (262) 821-1588 for New Berlin. You can also reach us electronically by filling out our online contact form.