An overview on the efficacy of extracorporeal shockwave therapy as a treatment modality for chronic plantar fasciitis.
I have spent close to 10 years in this industry. A world hyper focused on performance, optimization and chasing perfection. But all of the high performance comes at a price and as a rehabilitation specialist and trainer, injuries are a dime a dozen. With performance injuries occurring at every single level of training type and style, the amount of information and research on both injury treatments and injury prevention has increased exponentially over the last 3 to 4 decades.
Throw in the spanner that is social media and all of a sudden we have reached what I strongly consider as information overload. Just the other day a lady I work with came to me and said she isn’t worried about her ITB issue, she’s just going to get some shockwave therapy a couple of days before the race.
I almost spat out my coffee on the gym floor! But then it dawned upon me, there is really a misconception on what really works out here. Despite having access to unlimited information in this day and age, we’re still looking for that magic pill or secret sauce that will make all our problems disappear in a minute!
I need to set the record straight and take a deep dive into:
Why Plantar Fasciitis for Shockwave Therapy?
Why plantar fasciitis specifically? Well to be 100% honest with you guys, plantar fasciitis is my current obsession. I have spent the last year taking a look at a condition that is affecting hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. So I thought what better way to keep up with my current obsession by looking at it from a different, yet very unique angle.
So that is why I chose to cover plantar fasciitis. And to be perfectly honest, in theory, the information we are about to cover in this article should carry over to other chronic inflammatory conditions. But at this point it remains nothing but conjecture. But let’s see if we can go ahead and change that shall we?
What is Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave therapy is a treatment method that uses sound waves to treat injured tissues that aren’t responding to more conservative methods.
How Does Shockwave Therapy Work?
Extracorporeal Shockwave therapy, also known as Shockwave therapy, is a treatment modality that uses noninvasive sound waves with specific characteristics such as frequency, amplitude and other physical characteristics such as a very high peak pressure point to aid in the treatment of soft tissue injuries.
Historically, Shockwave therapy was initially used to treat renal stones as a noninvasive treatment option. But orthopods got their hands on the machine and the rest is history. In today’s world physiotherapists and orthopedic specialists are the main guys and girls that make use of this treatment modality for injury treatment.
In a nutshell, the sound waves emitted during shockwave therapy have shown to aid in pain reduction, tissue healing and ultimately speeding up the healing process.
Can Shockwave Therapy Work for Plantar Fasciitis?
Based on current literature plantar fascia related conditions are one of the most studied categories within this scope of treatment. However, most of the Shockwave therapy occurred after conservative treatments failed. What this means is that it was more often than not used for plantar fascia tendinopathy as opposed to fasciitis.
However, Shockwave therapy for patients with plantar fasciitis was not entirely uncommon. In fact, I spoke to a friend of mine, a veteran in our local physical therapy community and he gave me some valuable insight into the benefits of Shockwave therapy as a treatment for chronic plantar fasciitis.
The way he sees it is that Shockwave therapy can be useful much earlier during the healing cycle. So way before the tendinitis progresses to a full blown tendinopathy. Albeit anecdotal evidence at best, he sticks by this claim and who is going to argue against that level of experience?
Benefits of Shockwave Therapy
Are There Any Cons to Using Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis?
In a nutshell, no there isn’t. Okay that’s not entirely true. Getting Shockwave therapy on your affected area can be quite painful depending on your relative pain tolerance.
Contraindications to Shockwave Therapy
Although there aren’t real cons to Shockwave therapy, there are some definitive contraindications. Please do not get any Shockwave therapy if:
Additionally, Shockwave therapy should not be performed over any major blood vessel or nerves.
Our final thoughts…
We should stress that Shockwave therapy by itself isn’t the secret pill to recovery success. Shockwave therapy in combination with other conservative treatment modalities is the only way to reap the full benefit of this form of treatment. So yes, Shockwave therapy can help treat chronic plantar fasciitis.