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ShockWave therapy

Last update: 18 May 2021

ShockWave therapy

ShockWave therapy was first used to break up kidney stones.

This therapeutic technology, however, has been adapted to other medicinal purposes as well. Nowadays, podiatrists use it in the clinic to treat difficult-to-repair musculoskeletal injuries.
Acoustic waves are at the core of the ShockWave therapy. Through a sequence of high-speed shocks, it strengthens the body and aids in the recovery of painful foot disorders. Most notably, it is used to treat plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and heel spur.

How ShockWave therapy works

In the case of ShockWave therapy, the podiatrist treats plantar conditions with a special device that includes an applicator.

When the applicator emits a high-intensity pulse, it is transmitted through the skin to the tissue that requires treatment.

By inducing microtrauma around the affected region, this technique aims to cause an inflammatory response in the body.

While it may appear counterproductive, it is a powerful way to kickstart a healing process that would otherwise be dormant.

Following the administration of ShockWave therapy, the following physiological responses can be commonly observed:

  • Blood flow to the treated region is increased.
  • The appearance of new blood vessels (neovascularization)
  • Temporary local analgesia and pain spasm suppression
  • Damaged tissue is gradually destroyed
  • A faster healing process
  • Improved mobility
  • Collagen production is increased, which is necessary for ligament and musculoskeletal structure healing.

The therapeutic benefits of shock waves

While this therapeutic method may be unpleasant at times, the benefits far outweigh the discomfort.

Shock wave therapy has the following advantages in addition to promoting healing:

  • It doesn’t have any significant side effects
  • It’s a unique alternative to surgery
  • ShockWave therapy is a simple and fast treatment
  • It normally does not necessitate the use of additional drugs.
  • This is a long-term foot treatment.
  • The applicator allows you to act with great precision on the problematic area in the foot

However, if the associated conditions have not been sufficiently taken into account, these various clinical benefits do not rule out the recurrence of the treated disease.

You should therefore take care to consult a podiatrist in order to find out about other possible therapeutic approaches.

What can be treated with ShockWave therapy 

Podiatrists are increasingly using ShockWave therapy to treat a variety of foot disorders.

It’s particularly useful with the following conditions:

Contraindications

Plutôt inoffensif, le traitement par ondes de choc doit néanmoins être utilisé avec prudence chez certaines personnes.

Les conditions ci-dessous représentent généralement des obstacles à la prescription d’une thérapie ShockWave :

  • Immune system weakened as a result of disease 
  • Chemotherapy 
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Heart and circulatory issues
  • Infection in the area to be treated
  • Pain that is difficult to pinpoint
  • A cortisone injection that was given recently

How does the therapeutic session proceed

Shock wave therapy, like all of PiedReseau’s other treatments, begins with a podiatrist’s diagnosis.

The podiatrist conducts the necessary tests during the initial consultation to assess the nature of the issue.

To a patient complaining of foot pain, they may suggest a biomechanical exam, an X-ray, or an ultrasound of the foot.

The podiatrist will make treatment recommendations once the cause of the pain has been determined.

If they wish to use ShockWave therapy and the patient has no contraindications, they will follow these measures to administer the treatment:

  1. Palpation is used to pinpoint the sore region that needs to be treated
  2. A conductive gel is applied to the previously defined region
  3. ShockWaves are administered at the appropriate frequency

To respond to treatment, certain conditions need higher frequency waves and more frequent pulses.

The preferred frequency for plantar fasciitis or heel spur is between 10 and 15 Hz.

To see long-term results, 3 to 5 treatment sessions are usually required.

Meanwhile, the following side effects may be observed:

  • Localized pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling in the treatment area
  • Hematomas

If you experience an exacerbation of your initial symptoms that doesn’t go away, it is important to make an appointment with your podiatrist.

ShockWave therapy is an effective solution for chronic pain

Podiatrists will often go out of their way to offer their patients a minimally invasive treatment.

In this regard, ShockWave therapy remains true to the tradition of conservative procedures.

When it is accompanied by other treatments such as the use of foot orthoses, its effectiveness is even more remarkable.

If you suffer from severe foot pain that does not respond to conventional methods, ShockWave therapy could be the solution for you.

Consult your podiatry clinic to learn if ShockWave therapy may be right for your foot condition.

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