At Shenandoah Podiatry, we offer a variety of options for treating foot and heel pain. We typically only turn to surgery after exhausting other possibilities. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) is an innovative treatment providing very promising results. It is distinctly different from surgery, stimulating the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Read on to learn about the benefits of shockwave therapy and whether it may be right for you. The benefits of shockwave therapy

Benefits of ESWT

Approved by the FDA, ESWT does not involve sending an electrical current into the body. Rather, it pulses ultrasonic waves. These radial acoustic waves prompt the body’s natural process of self-healing, including increasing blood circulation and cell generation. There are many benefits of ESWT that sometimes make it a better option than surgery.

Non-Invasive Procedure

The “extracorporeal” part of ESWT refers to its non-invasive nature. ESWT treatment does not involve any incisions or injections, and nothing is placed inside the body. As a result, there is zero risk of infection with ESWT. By contrast, surgery is inherently invasive and requires getting into the body to address the problem.

Performed in the Office

Shockwave therapy is convenient. Patients visit the same Shenandoah Podiatry office as always and are greeted by the same friendly staff. There is no need for the added complication of hospital admissions or outpatient care.

Short Treatment Duration

Foot and ankle surgeries take time. This includes not only the surgical procedure itself but also any preparation time before that. Often, patients have to block out a sizable portion of their day for surgery. By contrast, a typical ESWT session only takes about 15 minutes, and some treatment sessions can be even faster. Three weekly sessions may be all it takes.

No Anesthesia Needed

As a non-invasive procedure done in the office, shockwave therapy does not require that you be put under anesthesia. It is quick and painless. By comparison, even minimally invasive surgery involves small incisions. In turn, this calls for local anesthetic, which can lead to possible complications. It also takes time for anesthesia to wear off.

Virtually No Side Effects

Because of the way ESWT works, it has nearly no risks and no side effects at all. Most patients are able to go right back to their day after a treatment session. Rarely, a small number of patients may have some mild discomfort for a few days, but this fades quickly and is little more than a minor inconvenience.

Minimal Downtime After Treatment

Shockwave therapy can deliver a faster and easier healing process compared to surgery. With virtually no side effects, ESWT also calls for very little downtime. Patients don’t have to worry about a long rehabilitation period or time away from work. In most cases, you’re able to return to your regular activity almost right away.

When Podiatrists Use ESWT

When you make an appointment at Shenandoah Podiatry, Dr. Jennifer Keller or Dr. Natalie Allen will take the time to assess your specific experience. After a thorough examination, they will develop a treatment plan just for you.

If the treatments aren’t effective, they may suggest shockwave therapy as an option. After that, escalating to surgery may be called for. Surgery is typically the last treatment option we recommend. Foot and ankle conditions where ESWT may be offered include:

  • Achilles tendonitis with painful swelling at the back of the leg
  • Acute musculoskeletal pain that reduces mobility
  • Chronic plantar or posterior heel pain
  • Neuromas caused by flat feet or high arches
  • Plantar fasciitis and other types of foot inflammation
  • Shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome)
  • Sports injuries, such as ankle sprains and leg cramps
  • Stress fractures if the bone is not too displaced
  • Trigger points along taut bands of foot or ankle tissue
  • Other types of foot and heel pain

Is Shockwave Therapy Right for You?

We take acute and chronic pain very seriously. It is valuable to undergo a thorough examination with Dr. Keller or Dr. Allen to discuss the best path forward. Ask your podiatrist if shockwave therapy is a good option for you. People with underlying health conditions may not be good candidates, and certain medications may interact with ESWT, too.

Despite what many patients believe, it may be possible to treat some foot fractures without surgery. Often, surgery and ESWT can work together. In particular, shockwave therapy can be great for post-surgical recovery.

Dr. Jennifer Keller
Roanoke, VA Foot and Ankle Podiatrist