Plantar fasciitis is a painful and often frustrating condition – and one that becomes chronic in many cases. Painful heel syndrome, as it’s sometimes called, affects the heels of the feet and occurs in up to ten percent of the population at some point. It’s particularly prevalent among runners and people who walk or stand on their feet all day. When plantar fasciitis doesn’t respond to conservative therapy, some doctors recommend shockwave treatment for plantar fasciitis. Is this an effective way to treat the symptoms?
Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis: How Does It Compare?
Shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis involves hitting the heels with focused waves of energy. These waves “shock” the feet, which stimulates the body’s natural healing response. Shockwave therapy may involve high-energy waves or low-energy ones. Most doctors recommend low-energy shock wave therapy, because high-energy shockwaves are painful enough to require anesthesia.
Consider saving your money if your doctor recommends low-energy shockwave therapy to treat plantar fasciitis. In a recent study comparing low-energy shockwave treatment to three times daily stretching exercises, stretching solidly beat out low-energy shockwave therapy for symptom reduction. Only 29% of people experienced relief after shockwave therapy compared to 65% of those who used stretching exercises to treat plantar fasciitis.
Other types of therapy for that are better options for plantar fasciitis include platelet rich plasma (PRP) or orthotics. With PRP, the plasma that gets injected contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries. The platelets are then separated from other cells and the concentration is increased through a process known as centrifugation. Then when ready, the increased amount of platelets is combined with the remaining blood to promote healing.
Orthotics is another great way to heal plantar fasciitis. Rigid orthotics can realign the foot and provide long-term arch support which can help to promote healing without surgery or other injections. Finally applying ice to the heels twice a day are also good drug-free ways to relieve the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
Shockwave Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis: The Bottom Line?
Don’t be too quick to sign up for low-energy shockwave treatment for plantar fasciitis. Other types of treatments like PRP, orthotics or stretching to increase flexibility of the ligaments may be more effective – and it’s certainly less expensive and more convenient.