Radial Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy is a nonsurgical treatment for persistent heel pain associated with either chronic plantar fasciitis or achilles tendinitis. Powerful sound waves are generated by the shockwave device and focused upon the targeted tissue. The sound waves stimulate tissue healing. This is accomplished through angiogenesis, or formation of new blood vessels.
Success rate following 5 treatments is approximately 70-80%. Although symptoms may not be completely eliminated, they do tend to diminish to a level where pain is significantly less disabling and surgical intervention is no longer indicated. Treatments are performed on a weekly basis.
Each treatment takes approximately 10 minutes. Local anesthetic is not required. The area of greatest pain is localized. A coupling gel is applied. The head of the shockwave handpiece is placed at this area and treatment is initiated. When treatment is completed, patients can walk out of the office and return to normal daily activities.
This treatment is typically provided when other conservative treatments prove ineffective. For plantar fasciitis, these treatments may include oral nonsteroidal medications, steroid injections and custom orthotics. For achilles tendinitis, conservative treatments may include oral or topical nonsteroidal medications, heel lifts or immobilization. In certain cases, treatment may be contraindicated. Patients who have a pacemaker, who are taking Coumadin or are pregnant, are not good candidates for this procedure.
Although the technology behind Shockwave Therapy has been cleared by the FDA, insurance carriers do not typically reimburse for this treatment. The cost of 5 treatments is a fraction of the cost of surgery. This procedure can be paid with HSA or Flexible Spending Account funds.