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Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is used to treat chronic heel pain (plantar fasciitis). "Extracorporeal" means "outside of the body." During this noninvasive procedure, sonic waves are directed at the area of pain using a device similar to that currently used in nonsurgical treatment of kidney stones.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy is prescribed for patients who have experienced plantar fasciitis for an extended period of time -- six months or more -- and have not benefited from other conservative treatments. To achieve the great success and permanent benefits from the modality, it is preferable that any biomechanical underlying case first be addressed. In the case of plantar fascitis, that may involve addressing footwear inadequacies, modifying activity, prescribing appropriate custom orthotic devices.

The treatment is delivered over three visits usually 7-10 days apart using state of the art Swiss Dolor Clast technology. Strong sound waves are directed at and penetrate the heel area to stimulate a healing response by the body. ESWT is performed on an outpatient basis. Immediately after the treatment the patient is able to walk out of the office and drive home comfortably. In the ideal situation high intensity cold-laser therapy is also applied to the area immediately after and several times between delivery of the ESWT treatments to further enhance the healing environment.

People who are not candidates for ESWT include pregnant women and individuals with neurological foot disease, vascular foot disease, pacemakers, or people taking medications that interfere with blood clotting (such as Coumadin).

This therapy is a safe and effective alternative treatment for heel pain and only requires a short recovery time. Clinical studies show a 70 percent success rate for treatment of plantar fasciitis using Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy.