Heel pain that is felt on the underside or bottom of the foot is often caused by an often-painful condition called Plantar Fasciitis.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis, also called a heel spur, causes pain, irritation, and inflammation across the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia, a ligament that runs from the heel of your foot to the ball, connects your heel bone to your toes. When this ligament becomes strained, it can result in chronic pain.
What Does Plantar Fasciitis Feel Like?
It’s one of the most common causes of foot discomfort, causing a sharp pain that feels like a pin or knife that’s been stuck in your heel when you wake up in the morning and begin walking. Although the pain will start to subside as you move around through the day, it can reappear if you stand for a long period of time, or when you stand up after sitting behind a desk for most of the day.
Who Is Most Susceptible to Plantar Fasciitis?
- Runners and other athletes
- Pregnant women
- People who are overweight and often stand and walk
- People who wear shoes that have little to no support
- People who are getting older
How is plantar fasciitis prevented and treated in Pittsburgh?
There are a combination treatments for plantar fasciitis in Pittsburgh.
- Stretching. Each morning, before taking your first steps of the day, sit with your feet in a 90 degree angle. Get a towel, belt, or rolled up pillowcase (anything that will help with reaching you your foot) and wrap it around your forefoot at the base of your toes. Gently pull your foot back towards your nose. This will help stretch the plantar fascia tendon and get it prepared to step down on the floor. After long periods of inactivity (30 minutes or more), the plantar fascia will need to be stretched again.
- Icing. Every evening, sit with your feet up for 10-15 minutes and apply an ice pack (a bag of frozen peas or carrots works great, too!) to the sore area. Ice is a great natural anti-inflammatory that will help to repair the inflammation in the plantar fascia tendon.
- Orthotics. Wear hard orthotics in your shoes will help support the plantar fascia tendon and protect it from further injury.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may be taken with direction of a podiatrist or physician.
- Cortisone injections. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication that is injected into the plantar fascia tendon to reduce inflammation and pain. Cortisone should only be administered by a trained podiatrist or physician.
- Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT). ESWT is a nonsurgical method that delivers high-energy acoustic (sound) waves to a targeted area in order to to treat various musculoskeletal conditions, including plantar fasciitis.
If you suspect that you have plantar fasciitis in Pittsburgh, you can call 878-313-3338 for assistance in locating our closest office in your area.
Sometimes, it can be treated through conventional therapies, like medication, ice, or physical therapy. It can also be treated through Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy. Many of our patients who are suffering from chronic Plantar Fasciitis are now experiencing relief and are completely pain-free after undergoing Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy, or ESWT. This revolutionary, non-invasive treatment delivers safe, focused “shock waves” to your heel. The shock waves cause microtrauma (a very small injury) to the tissues in your heel, allowing your body to being the natural healing process. This response helps blood vessels re-form and to distribute important nutrients to the heel, alleviating the pain.
What Are The Benefits of ESWT?
- It works! It’s a proven pain relief procedure for the discomfort caused by chronic Plantar Fasciitis and heel spurs. The shock waves used in ESWT actually stimulate the body’s own repair mechanisms.
- It’s less than a 30-minute in-office procedure and has a short recovery period. There’s no need to take a day off of work—you can have this procedure done during your lunch hour. You can also walk as soon as the ESWT is done and you should be able to restart your regular activity the next day.
- No surgery is required. ESWT is gentle and is performed using shock waves, so there are no incisions made and the risks that are associated with surgery are removed.
- No pain medication is necessary, and there are no side effects. Your heel will be lightly numbed with gel before the procedure.
First, your pain will be confirmed with an ultrasound. The affected area on your foot will then be lightly numbed and you’ll lie down or sit on an exam table. After a gel is applied to the foot, shock waves are released from the ESWT device as your foot is properly positioned. The whole office visit takes only 30 minutes.
If you are suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, call Beaver Valley Foot Clinic today to learn more about the benefits of Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy.
Read what patients are saying about Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy…
“I’ve had foot pain for over twenty years, no wonder, my job requires being on my feet eight to twelve hours a day, six days a week. Until I tried ESWT, I assumed the pain would be a part of my life forever, thankfully I was wrong.”
Terrence L. Salay, Steel Worker, Aliquippa, PA
“Working 12 hours a day in the steel mill guarantees you one thing, unbearable foot pain. The worse it got, the less I could work, until ESWT. It has truly changed my life. In just two weeks I was pain free. It doesn’t get any better than that, unless we win the Super Bowl of course.”
Frank Franklin, Steel Mill Supervisor, New Brighton, PA
“I have traveled every road to try and find relief for my heel spurs-shots, taping, medicine, show inserts, losing weight and wore tennis shoes. Results-no result, until ESWT. If you don’t believe me just ask my feet.”
Annette Marshalek, Bentleyville, PA
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FAQ Frequently Asked Questions
What, exactly, is Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT, Shockwave Therapy)?
Shockwave is a relatively new, non-invasive treatment for achilles tendonitis and many other chronic joint injuries. ESWT delivers many small bursts of very high intensity ultrasound energy to the damaged tendons crossing the elbow joint—it is these tendons which cause symptoms in almost all patients. It’s interesting that this ultrasound energy is exactly the same type used by ultrasound machines to image babies and abdominal organ, just many times stronger. Clinically, this causes these tendons to heal properly and symptoms to go away. We typically recommend that our Plantar fasciitis Mt Lebanon patients opt for ESWT after exhausting common, completely non-invasive options such as NSAIDS (ibuprofen) and rest.
How, exactly, does ESWT work?
We firmly believe that ESWT uses one of the most effective (and indeed fascinating) mechanisms for treating achilles tendonitis and other chronic injuries. In an over-use injury like tennis elbow, the tendons and ligaments of the affected joint become inflamed and eventually damaged over time due to continuous use. Effectively, these tendons and ligaments never get a chance to heal properly. Shockwave therapy purposely causes small amounts of damage, known as micro-trauma, to the precise area where the tendons insert into the bone. This might seem confusing—after all, why would anyone want a treatment which causes more damage? The fact of the matter is that Shockwave therapy actually triggers the body’s own natural healing response. Basically, it jump starts the healing process. Additionally, it accomplishes two other specific goals. The first is increased collagen production. Tendons and ligaments are made primarily of collagen, and in an over-use injury this collagen gradually breaks down. The micro-trauma caused by Shockwave actually stimulates collagen production as part of the triggered healing process. The second involves increased blood flow to the area. ESWT treatments increase blood flow to the injured area, and any injury needs good circulation in order to heal properly. Note that ligaments and tendons typically have very poor blood flow, which nearly always causes some difficulty in healing, and ESWT directly addresses this. We recommend ESWT for nearly all of our elbow pain Pittsburgh patients for these reasons and its overall effectiveness.
What can I expect during my Shockwave Therapy Treatment? What’s it like?
Before any procedure of any kind is started, a thorough history is taken and a thorough exam is performed. Once you’ve been cleared for Shockwave therapy, you’ll be prepared for treatment—the treatment area is cleaned and local numbing medication such as novocaine or lidocaine may be used. Shockwave is generally very well tolerated, and local numbing isn’t even needed in most cases. The elbow is placed on a specialized “water bubble” which is part of the ESWT generator. This is important, because ultrasound energy travels best through water. Many small pulses of ultrasound energy are delivered to the tendons and ligaments of the elbow and the treatment is concluded. The patient will hear a clicking sound as the shockwaves are generated, and usually feels no discomfort. The treatment usually takes under 20 minutes.
Does it work? How successful is it?
Yes, Shockwave therapy has excellent success rates when compared to other common treatments, and has saved many patients from invasive surgery. Several research papers have estimated ESWT’s success rates to be as high as 80%. In this case, success is defined as a “good” or “excellent” outcome, which means that the patient has normal function with some minor pain, or normal function without any pain at all. It often amazes patients that several extremely common treatments such as cortisone injections have practically no research supporting them, and their value is questionable at best. Dr. Teimouri in Bridgewater has been in practice for over 22 years and is very satisfied with these rates of success.
Does ESWT hurt? Is it painful?
No. Patients feel either minor discomfort or nothing at all. Our patients with tennis elbow in Pittsburgh are usually amazed at how comfortable treatment actually is.
Who is the ideal candidate for ESWT?
Any patient who has tried the most basic treatment measures (such as NSAIDs and rest) without relief is an excellent candidate for Shockwave therapy. Any patient considering an invasive surgical procedure should certainly consider all non-invasive procedures such as ESWT first—we strongly recommend Shockwave to many of our achilles tendonitis Moon patients.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t get Shockwave Therapy?
No. While there will always be individual patients who don’t qualify for a specific procedure, ESWT has been used successfully on all major patient populations. See the question below.
I’ve had cortisone (steroid) shots and they didn’t work. Is ESWT still OK for me?
ESWT is generally a good option for achilles tendonitis patients who didn’t achieve full relief with injections. In fact, Shockwave therapy has eliminated the need for further injections in some patients. The only notable exception are those who have had many injections at the same site, or who have been on oral steroids for long periods. Each patient is different and there are no absolute rules, so make sure you discuss this issue with our physicians.
Are patients generally satisfied with Shockwave Therapy?
Yes. In fact, many of our patients with achilles tendonitis in Pittsburgh have been happy enough to recommend it to others.
Is ESWT a kind of surgery? Is it invasive?
ESWT does not break the skin at any time and is not considered surgery. Shockwave is a non-invasive treatment—this is one of the primary reasons physicians prefer to offer it as an option.
Is ESWT a good option for people who have already had failed surgery for tennis elbow?
Yes. A failed surgery can complicate any subsequent treatments: this is true for any surgery, anywhere in the body. However many patients with a history of failed surgery get exceptional results with Shockwave therapy.
What are the side-effects? What are potential complications?
ESWT in NYC isn’t an invasive procedure and therefore has very few unintentional effects and complications. Most patients experience some soreness for several days after the procedure with no other ill effects. Our achilles tendonitis Bridgewater patients frequently report this as the full extent of their side-effects. This is another primary reason our clinics recommend Shockwave therapy.
How should I prepare for a Shockwave Therapy treatment?
No special preparation is necessary prior to ESWT in Philadelphia PA.
Are there any medications I should stop taking before my treatment?
Not generally. We’ll review your medications as we would prior to any procedure to make absolutely certain. For example, patients taking Coumadin are usually asked to come off this medication for 7 days before the procedure date. As a rule, no medication type disqualifies a patient from Shockwave therapy. As always, our physicians will review your medications during your examination.
What should I do after my procedure? What’s the after-care?
No specific after-care is needed. Sometimes patients use heat or ice as needed, but neither is necessary.
When can I expect maximum results?
This time period varies, but patients generally experience significant relief by the 6th to 12th week. Symptoms gradually lessen in the weeks and months after Shockwave therapy, and often disappear completely.
How soon can I go back to normal, everyday activities like driving, walking, and doing household work?
How soon can I go back to vigorous, higher impact activities like sports and weight lifting?
We recommend that our patients with achilles tendonitis in Coraopolis wait for 14 days before vigorous activity in order to be absolutely certain of an optimal outcome.
What’s the absolute best outcome I can expect from Shockwave?
Complete relief of achilles tendonitis symptoms and return to all normal activities without restriction.
What’s the absolute worst outcome I can expect from Shockwave?
No procedure succeeds 100% of the time. For example, a patient with several failed surgeries who has extensive joint, tendon, and ligament damage may experience no relief at all. This being said, ESWT cannot make achilles tendonitis (or any other condition) worse.
Does insurance cover ESWT? How much does it cost?
Our staff will check your insurance eligibility. Many of our achilles tendonitis Seven Fields patients have had their insurance plan cover this procedure.
Is ESWT approved by the FDA?
Since ESWT isn’t a surgical procedure or a drug, it doesn’t have to be FDA approved. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) reviewed the procedure in 2015 and approved Shockwave therapy for general use in all medical facilities.
What else is Shockwave Therapy used for?
ESWT was originally developed to break up kidney stones, and was soon adapted to treat other conditions. Today Shockwave therapy is commonly used to treat achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and other soft-tissue injuries. In theory, ESWT can be used to provide a broadly effective treatment in any over-use injury involving tendons and ligaments.