Shockwave therapy

[shockwave image]

Shockwave therapy is a safe treatment is intended to reduce pain and promote the tissue to heal. For this treatment, a handpiece is applied to the bottom of the heel and repetitive soundwaves (that sound a bit like a hammer) are applied to the heel. Initially, you may experience some discomfort with this treatment, but this should reduce as the soundwaves are delivered. Usually, people require 3-5 treatment sessions.

A video that demonstrates this treatment is available.

Safety

This is a very safe treatment, with no serious adverse events reported. Occasionally, people may experience red dots on the skin (burst capillaries), mild swelling, temporary skin numbness, and the pain may feel different the morning after a treatment session.

It is recommended that the shockwave therapy not be used in the following situations:

  • People with blood clotting disorders due to the potential for uncontrolled bleeding
  • People taking blood thinning medication due to increased bruising in the area
  • Anyone with an infection or tumour in the area due to the shockwave potentially spreading the infection or tumour cells
  • Pregnant women due¬†to the risk to the foetus
  • People with a partially ruptured or torn plantar fascia due to the risk of further damage

Evidence summary

There is evidence to support the use of shockwave for plantar heel pain. Currently, there is evidence to suggest that:

Links to research

Sun J, Gao F, Wang Y, Sun W, Jiang B, Li Z. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is effective in treating chronic plantar fasciitis: A meta-analysis of RCTs. Medicine (Baltimore), 2017;96(15): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5403108/