Heel pain – Sydney Podiatrist explains Shockwave therapy and the treatment of heel pain.

Shockwave therapy

Shockwave therapy

Shockwave therapy kicks start the healing response.

Known as extracorporeal shockwave therapy, this involves firing mechanical shockwaves into the sole of the foot to jump-start the healing process. The idea of using shockwaves to break up kidney stones has been around for 20 years or so, but only recently have we realised that it can also help heal tendons or ligaments, which is very exciting. While doctors don’t know exactly how it works, we think it creates controlled micro-damage stimulating the healing response which becomes retarded with long term chronic injuries such as heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis. For this reason it is most effective in patients who have had heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis for a long time — over six to 12 months. Here, the inflammation has settled down and the healing has stopped, but the patient still has chronic pain — not just a bit of pain in the morning.

Studies have shown shockwave therapy to have a success rate of 80 per cent. It may also partly numb and anaesthetise the nerve endings, so the patient feels less pain, although this is usually temporary.

Treatment is quick and safe, only taking fifteen minutes to apply, with a recommended minimum of three consecutive weekly treatments. Shockwave treatment does not take away the need to address the underlying cause of the problem so it does not return but has now enabled us to successfully get past the first hurdle of retarded healing and chronic pain.

What else do you need to be aware of when suffering from heel pain

Most of us can’t wait to kick off our shoes at the end of a long day at work and rest our weary feet. So today’s post is about a very common foot condition that about one in ten of us will suffer. Painful arches and heels are often referred to as plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, a ligament which runs along the bottom of the foot, tears. The insertion of this ligament into the heel bone (calcaneus) can often become calcified leading to the condition known as a heel spur.

The plantar fascia has a poor blood supply, which means it can be very slow to recover from repetitive stress leading to weakening, tearing, inflammation and heel pain.

The heel pain is often very intense, especially after sport, walking or lots of standing. The classic sign is heel pain in the morning. ‘Patients often say getting out of bed is agony’, which is perhaps because the ligament stiffens up and tightens during the night.

Heel pain can persist for years as the ligament degenerates, gets weaker and increasingly painful.

heel pain Heel pain & Plantar fasciitis is largely an affliction of middle-aged people.

In this regard there are three key factors:

1) As we get older, the healing process slows and the scar tissue formed is not as good a quality.

2)  Some of us put on weight as we get older, so instead of walking with a spring in our step we tend to stomp.

3) The muscles in our feet are less toned, so we walk on the insides of our feet further stressing the plantar fascia.

To tackle the problem of arch and heel pain, some simple thing s can be done. Putting the feet in ice when they are painful seems to help if not numb the pain. Ice is a natural analgesic. A very good exercise is to roll your arch over a frozen bottle of water, as this also stretches the plantar fascia. Other methods include orthotics to address the biomechanical cause of the pain reducing the stressful forces going through the foot, night splints, cortisone injections and strapping for arch support can all assist in pain management as well. Never to be overlooked is your posture. Poor posture, especially forward head posture and rounding of the shoulders places excessive stress on the plantar fascia as it has to work much harder to stop you falling forward.

If you have problems with heal pain we are ready to help. Please call us on 02 9518 0722 to make an appointment to see if we can help.

David Wong Better Health Podiatrist

David Wong
Better Health Podiatrist