Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is a foot disease and it is the most common cause of heel pain. Patients with Plantar Fasciitis go through extreme pain, usually in the morning or after a period without walking. It is estimated to affect 10% of adults, mostly those who fall between 40 and 60 years old and the younger group of habitual runners. Its prevalence has been reported to be higher in women than in men. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy has been widely used for decades as an alternative treatment option for Plantar Fasciitis.


Description of the intervention

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) has been proven to be effective and it is a widely preferred intervention due to:


  • The quick recovery times caused by the stimulation of collagen production, which helps muscles and soft tissue structures to repair and heal faster. There is also the formation of new blood vessels in the area because the shock waves promote angiogenesis. The availability of more oxygen and nutrients help in the repair and healing process of the injuries.
  • Its noninvasive nature – ESWT does not involve puncturing the skin or entering the body cavity, meaning there is no surgery needed.
  • Pain reduction – Nociceptors are pain-sensing nerves and this intervention dulls them, making it more bearable for a patient.
  • Suitability to the day-to-day life of patients – The intervention, popular for musculoskeletal, treatment has few latent complications and allows the patient to get back to normal routine faster.


How the intervention works

Shockwave therapy was first used in the intervention and management of Plantar Fasciitis in 1996. Several practitioners and investigators have published scientific studies and successful results after using shock wave intervention to treat Plantar Fasciitis. It is considered a safe treatment option with positive outcomes.

There are two types of ESWT; focused shock wave therapy and radial shock wave therapy. Focused shock wave therapy focuses on a specific spot, while radial shock wave therapy sends pulses around the site. There is a high-energy and low-energy form of shock wave treatment. They are, however, not linked to focused shock wave therapy and radial shock wave therapy because those are two different technologies.

Low-energy shock wave treatment is administered in a series of three or more therapies that have pain intensities ranging from none to mild pains. In distinction, high-energy shock wave treatments are administered in one session. They are usually painful and anaesthesia may be administered for the therapies.

A mechanical device is necessary to produce pressure pulses for both types of therapy. Focused shock wave therapy uses three different generator technologies; electrohydraulic, electromagnetic and acoustic waves. Radial shock wave therapy uses a new generation pneumatic machine and is administered to the skin directly.


Despite extracorporeal shock wave therapy being a bit expensive, it is has been proven to be quite effective in the management and treatment of Plantar Fasciitis. Patients may benefit from shock wave therapy because it is a reasonable and cheaper option than surgical intervention. Its potential side effects are also low, making it a safe treatment alternative to surgery.