Has heel pain made you “ouch” first thing every morning? Have you been declining social events because you can’t stand on your feet? Have you changed your life around heel pain because that’s the only way to manage it? If any of these resonates with you, shockwave therapy may be what you need.
Heel pain…should you wait and see?
We get it. Heel pain is unpleasant and frustrating. No one wants to wake up to a painful foot and always says no to a friendly game of football. If you didn’t know already, heel pain is actually very common and can affect anyone. It is not unusual for us to see patients with years’ history of heel pain. Unfortunately, many people choose the “wait-and-see” approach, and sure enough, the pain often doesn’t go away on its own.
Heel pain is complex in nature and can be difficult to manage for many reasons. One main reason being that we can’t simply not use our foot to let it heal. Resting is especially hard if you work at a job that requires a lot of standing and walking. Teachers, nurses and those working at retail are more prone to developing heel pain than those in other occupations.
The complexity of heel pain also hinges greatly on how long you have had the pain for. Pain is a way our body tells us that something is wrong, and for that purpose, pain is good. The story is different with chronic pain, however. Prolonged exposure to pain would modify the neural pathways in the brain to help us “cope” better with the pain. That is how some people “live with the pain” so to speak as the pain has essentially become part of their lives. Generally speaking, the longer you have had the pain, the more likely it is for the body to experience delayed healing and compensation through other parts of the lower limb.
So, if you’ve had pain for many years, does that mean there is no hope? Well, there is, thanks to SHOCKWAVE THERAPY!
What is Shockwave Therapy?
Shockwave therapy uses high energy sound waves to promote regeneration of the affected tissues, speed up healing and provide pain relief. The reason why shock waves are used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, including heel pain, is because of its ability to initiate healing on a cellular level. The treated area will have more blood flow and formation of new blood vessels, both of which create a more suitable environment for tissue repair. Studies have also found that shock waves can influence the body’s pain regulating mechanisms, providing pain relief.
What happens at the treatment?
As mentioned before, shockwave therapy uses sound waves to speed up healing. In order for shock waves to go into the tissue effectively, we will put some gel on the part we want to treat. If you have had any ultrasound scan or treatment before, it is the same gel that we use in shockwave therapy. Once we turn on the shockwave machine, you will hear “tick tick tick tick” and feel a flick with each “tick”. While there could be some discomfort initially, after a short period of time, the tissue would be desensitised and pain relief would kick in. Most of our patients, including ourselves, find shockwave very tolerable.
Another thing that makes shockwave therapy a good treatment option is that it is non-invasive with little to no side effects. After the treatment, you can return to normal activity. Depending on the severity of your condition, we may ask you to cut down on certain activities during the treatment period.
The general protocol of shockwave therapy is one to two treatments a week for 4-6 weeks. The exact number of treatments and frequency would depend on your condition. Sometimes we need a combination approach, including change in footwear, prescription orthotics and strengthening exercises, to help you achieve the best result! We would discuss with you what we think is the best approach at the appointment.
If you feel like your heel pain just doesn’t seem to go away, shockwave therapy could be a good option for you. Take action today and you would be one day closer to being pain free again! Remember, late is better than never.