Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is an often successful treatment for persistent tendon injuries including heel spurs. In recent years it has become the standard method for many physiotherapists to treat heel spurs and plantaris fasciitis, but also shoulder complaints, achilles tendon infections and tennis elbows are often treated with it. The method is often effective and has relatively few adverse side effects. Shockwave is also called E.S.W.T. called (Extracorporeal ShockWave Therapy).
How does shockwave therapy work?
Shockwave therapy is performed with sound waves with high energy. These are directed directly to the location of the heel spur and plantar fascia, with a kind of marker or ball. Shockwave therapy can be applied in two ways: radial or focused. Radial shockwave is less directly focused on one spot, but slightly more dispersed. Also the surrounding tissue, especially the tendon plate under the sole of the foot, is often treated like this. The sound waves are highly energetic and stimulate the affected tendon tissue. The idea is that through this stimulation the tissue initiates a healing reaction, instead of continuing to ignite indefinitely. The blood circulation and metabolism is stimulated considerably at the treated site. If the treatment starts, often no more than 4-6 treatments are required, although up to 10 treatments may be required in more severe cases. If after 10 treatments no improvement has occurred, continuing does not make any sense.
The treatment itself can be quite painful, but every patient experiences it differently. The sound waves (a kind of hard tick sound) can arrive quite firmly, especially at the beginning of the treatment. However, the intensity can be adjusted to the pain threshold of the patient. Usually a fairly low start is made, and the intensity is increased when the first sensitivity moves away. A treatment lasts on average about 10 minutes. The pain after the treatment differs. The worst pain is gone as soon as the treatment stops, but some patients have a few hours to days after the shockwave treatment a nagging episode.
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Advantages and disadvantages of shockwave therapy
Disadvantages of the treatment are hardly there. During the treatment you will experience pain, but usually this is reasonably easy to do, and after the treatment the pain quickly disappears. The big advantage of this treatment is that, especially in contrast to eg injections and operations, there is little chance of adverse effects. When the treatment starts, the heel spur is dissolved in a few treatments. The success rate is relatively high, even though healing is not certain here. The best chance of recovery is in people who have not had heel spurs for too long. If the inflammation has already become chronic, this treatment works less well, but that applies to all treatments.