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Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is a non-invasive procedure commonly used by podiatrists to treat various foot and ankle problems. Although the words “shock wave” can make this procedure sound a little scary, it’s virtually painless, and since it’s a non-surgical method of foot pain treatment, it has very minimal side effects.

How ESWT Works

ESWT uses a machine that delivers high-energy bursts of acoustic waves (i.e., shock waves) to the tissues of the body in order to increase blood flow and encourage healing in the affected area. While surgery is a common treatment option for conditions such as Achilles tendinosis, heel spurs, and plantar fasciitis, ESWT can address all of these conditions with much less risk of complications or side effects. Not only that, but because ESWT is a non-invasive procedure, it’s also much less expensive than surgical treatments.

Common Foot Surgeries That Could Be Prevented with ESWT

  • Achilles Tendinosis Surgery – This surgical procedure is commonly used to relieve Achilles tendinosis, a condition where the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed and begins to degenerate. In this procedure, the surgeon will often remove the diseased or degenerated portion of the Achilles tendon. ESWT delivers pulses of energy to the affected area as a way to jump start the body’s natural healing processes, all while keeping your Achilles tendon intact!
  • Plantar Fascia Release – This surgical procedure is used to relieve plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the thick ligament that supports the arch of the foot (i.e., the plantar fascia ligament) becomes inflamed. In a regular plantar fascia release procedure, the plantar fascia ligament is partially cut in order to release tension, which sometimes reduces inflammation. According to several clinical studies, high-energy ESWT has been shown to be effective in quickly resolving the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
  • Heel Spur Surgery – Heel spurs are often a sign that a patient has plantar fasciitis. This procedure is basically identical to the plantar fascia release, except that the surgeon will often remove the spur (which is a buildup of calcium in the heel area) after they have released the plantar fascia ligament from the heel bone. The main purpose of ESWT is to treat the tendon, but it can often bring relief to people who have heel spurs as well.

For those who are a little nervous about going under the knife, ESWT can serve as a great alternative to surgery. Be sure to consult with your podiatrist to determine which treatment option will be the best fit for you.