How Does Shockwave Therapy Help Achilles Tendinopathy?

Achilles’ tendinopathy is a common cause of posterior heel pain associated with injury and/or overuse in both sedentary and active people. It is characterized by pain, swelling, morning stiffness and tenderness on the attachment of the Achilles tendon onto the heel bone, known as the calcaneum. It is often a chronic, frustrating injury which effects adults aged between 30 and 60 years of age. Your risk of developing Achilles’ tendinopathy is increased by factors such as: age, increasing physical activity drastically, being male, having a flat foot, or having certain medical conditions.

It has been shown that shockwave is an effective option for treating chronic insertional Achilles’ tendinopathy. The amount of time it takes to recover varies person to person depending on the exact nature and extent of the injury. It is not unusual to feel an immediate reduction in pain following your first shockwave session. The likely scenario is a gradual reduction in pain over the following weeks to months.

How Does Shockwave Help Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a condition of pain in the lower heel region of the foot. It is the consequence of partial repetitive lesions and chronic inflammation in the plantar aponeurosis, in its insertion in the medial tubercle of the calcaneus bone. In other words, it occurs when the fan-shaped tissue located in the bottom of the foot — or the plantar fascia, becomes inflamed. This thick belt of connective tissue connects your heel bone to your toes and helps maintain the shape of your foot arch. So, when it becomes strained due to plantar fasciitis, it leads to a sharp, stabbing pain that is worse first thing in the morning when you take your first steps. Since the condition tends to ease as the day goes on, many people ignore the pain. However, the longer that this condition goes untreated, the more likely the pain is to become chronic. Plus, this can lead to weakness, which can eventually impact your walking.

The risk factors of plantar fasciitis include long time in standing position due to work activity, obesity, use of inappropriate footwear, excessive foot pronation, limited ankle dorsiflexion, and excessive running by unexperienced runners. The main complaint is pain under the heel that worsens when waking up in the morning or after sitting, which usually gets better after a little walk and at the end of the day with less weight bearing.

The procedure involves a special probe is used to deliver pressure waves to the skin. These waves travel throughout the skin until they reach inflamed tissue. They trigger the body’s natural healing process, which causes new blood vessels to form. This increases the oxygen and blood supply in the area, resulting in decreased inflammation and the regeneration of healthy cells. The process also helps your body produce collagen, which is vital to the health of connective tissue.

A prospective study by the Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology at São Paulo hospital concluded that shock wave therapy was effective in plantar fasciitis treatment according to the proposed protocol, which considered pain, function and quality of life. The shockwave therapy is an alternative to non-surgical treatments (drug and physiotherapy) and less aggressive than surgical treatment for refractory cases.