What is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)?
ESWT is a fast and gentle non-surgical method of reducing heel pain. It is derived from lithotripsy, a technique used today to disintegrate kidney stones without the use of invasive surgery. The device delivers pneumatically-generated low or high pressure shock waves that travel through the skin. Inflamed soft tissue and bone calcifications that receive these low or high energy pulses will heal stronger without harm to the surrounding tissues. Electricity is not sent into the body. High energy pulsations of ultrasonic waves stimulate the body’s natural self-healing process.
Who does this treatment benefit?
ESWT is especially beneficial for patients that have chronic heel pain and Achilles tendinitis and have not had much success with traditional therapies such as medications, injections, orthotic therapy or physical therapy. Shock wave therapy may give good outcomes for some tendon problems or chronic degenerative conditions- examples include Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.
Can anyone receive this treatment?
The doctors at Global Podiatry Partners will determine if you are a candidate for ESWT. It is reserved for special cases where conventional treatments have not provided adequate relief of pain.
Does this treatment involve surgery or medications?
ESWT means that there is no surgery, no anesthesia, no injections and no medication.
What is involved in the treatment?
The procedure is performed in our office. After a thorough evaluation, we will carry out a simple manual examination of the painful area. The trigger point, or sore area over the heel will be located and marked. Ultrasonic transmission gel is applied to the foot. The ESWT hand piece is then positioned to gently and extensively transmit shockwaves over the injured area. The feedback you provide helps to determine the fine 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 lasts about 15 minutes.
How soon can I expect results?
Most patients will notice improvement after the first treatment, however, overall healing continues for up to 3 months after the last treatment. Success rates with this advanced treatment is approximately 70-80%. Patients typically bear weight after treatment. Patients are advised to reduce the level of physical activity for 1-2 weeks after treatment.
Are there any side effects with ESWT?
There are virtually no side effects with ESWT since no medication, surgery, injections, or anesthesia is involved. Some patients may experience a short period of slight tingling, warmth or numbness immediately after their treatment.
Is this a substitute for surgery?
Shock wave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that can help avoid surgery. Treatment responses may vary. Success cannot be guaranteed.
Is this covered by insurance?
This depends on your individual insurance policy. Discuss this with your surgeon and contact your insurance carrier before having the procedure. If your insurance does not cover it, you will need to pay out of pocket at a significantly reduced rate.
If I can answer any questions you may have, feel free to reach out by calling (626) 821-9323.
Dr. Charles J. Hastings, DPM, FACFAS, FFPM RCPS(Glasg)