Every time we walk, jog or sprint, structures on our feet
work harmoniously to carry our own body weight and to keep us balanced to
prevent us from falling. Our feet are designed to handle heavy loads and stress
from all sorts of activities, but even this perfectly-made structure has its
Being overweight, engaging in extreme sports, or even neglecting simple stretching routines before regular exercise can potentially harm or cause damage to any structure of the feet causing foot pain. It is estimated that about 75% of Americans will experience some type of foot problem over the course of their lifetime. Heel pain is the most common form of foot problem which typically affects two vital parts: plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon.
The plantar fascia is a thick connective tissue located at the bottom of the foot. It spans between the calcaneal bone or heel bone to the proximal phalanges of the toes. The plantar fascia is vital in maintaining the arch of the foot, therefore, is constantly under stress when walking, running or any activity involving the foot. A very painful and chronic pathology involving the structure is called plantar fasciitis.
The Achilles tendon is the thickest tendon in the human body and is located at the back of foot. A tendon connects muscles to bone; hence, the Achilles tendon connects the upper calf muscles (plantaris, gastrocnemius and soleus) to the heel bone below. The pathology involving this structure is called Achilles tendinitis.
Both plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis involves micro injuries resulting to inflammation and pain, which is in fact easy to treat if given enough time to heal. Unfortunately, most patients take pain medications, masking the pain, allowing them to continue with their activities. This actually causes more injury to these structures leading chronic heel pain.
The Role of ESWT in Treating Chronic Heel Pain
ESWT or Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical treatment for intense, persistent heel pain associated with chronic plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis. Extracorporeal is a medical procedure done outside the body. Shockwave or sound pressure generated by the ESWT machine is focused on targeted tissue to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanism to repair the chronically damaged tissues.
ESWT is recommended to patients diagnosed with chronic heel pain for more than six months and have failed to respond conservative treatments like rest, physical therapy, pain medications, steroid injections, orthotics, casting, and the like. In the past, surgical intervention for chronic heel pain was recommended when all other non-surgical treatments fail. Today, ESWT is available as an effective alternative, non-invasive treatment for chronic heel pain.
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