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Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis: A Comprehensive Guide to Treatment and Management

Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

If you’re looking for information on shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis, you’ve come to the right place. Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterised by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes. This inflammation can cause intense pain and discomfort, making it difficult to walk or stand for extended periods.

The most common causes of plantar fasciitis include overuse or strain of the foot, flat feet or high arches, and obesity. Symptoms may include sharp pain in the heel or arch of the foot, stiffness or soreness, and difficulty walking or standing.

It is important to seek treatment for plantar fasciitis as early as possible to prevent further damage and alleviate pain. If left untreated, the condition can lead to chronic pain and disability. In the following sections, we will explore the various treatments available for plantar fasciitis, with a particular focus on shockwave therapy.

Key takeaway

Shockwave therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for plantar fasciitis, and most patients experience significant improvement in symptoms after just a few sessions.

Traditional Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

There are several traditional treatments available for plantar fasciitis, which are typically recommended as the first line of defense against the condition. These include rest, ice, and compression, pain medication, physical therapy, and orthotics.

RICE Treatment

Rest, ice, compression and elevation, also known as RICE treatment, is a simple but effective method for reducing inflammation and pain in the affected foot. This may involve limiting physical activity, applying ice packs, and wearing compression socks or wraps.

Pain Medication

Pain medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can also be effective in reducing pain and inflammation. However, it is important to use these medications with caution, as they can have potential side effects and may not be suitable for everyone.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is another commonly recommended treatment for plantar fasciitis, which involves exercises and stretches to improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the foot. Physical therapy can also help to address any underlying biomechanical issues that may be contributing to the condition.


Orthotics, such as shoe inserts or custom-made arch supports, can also be helpful in supporting the foot and reducing pressure on the plantar fascia. Orthotics can help to distribute weight evenly across the foot, providing cushioning and support to relieve pain and discomfort.

What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive medical treatment that is becoming increasingly popular for the treatment of plantar fasciitis. This treatment involves the use of high-energy shockwaves to stimulate the body's natural healing process and promote the growth of new tissue.

Shockwave therapy works by sending high-energy shockwaves through the skin and into the affected area of the foot. These shockwaves create microtrauma in the tissues, which stimulates the body's natural healing response. This leads to increased blood flow, the formation of new blood vessels, and the production of new tissue

Benefits of Shockwave Therapy

There are several benefits associated with shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis:

  • Non-invasive treatment option

  • Does not require surgery or medication

  • Relatively quick and painless procedure

  • Stimulates body's natural healing response

  • Increases blood flow and formation of new blood vessels

  • Promotes the growth of new tissue

  • Highly effective in treating plantar fasciitis

  • Improves pain and function in patients

  • Significant relief from symptoms after just a few sessions

Effectiveness of Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

Clinical Studies on Shockwave Therapy

Multiple clinical studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of shockwave therapy in treating plantar fasciitis. These studies have shown promising results and have demonstrated that shockwave therapy is a safe and effective treatment option.

Success Rate of Shockwave Therapy

The success rate of shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis is high, with many patients experiencing significant improvement in their symptoms after just a few sessions. According to a study published in the The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, shockwave therapy had a success rate of between 50-65% in the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis.

Duration of Treatment and Number of Sessions

The duration of treatment and number of sessions required for shockwave therapy varies depending on the severity of the condition. However, most patients require between 3 to 6 sessions, each lasting around 15 minutes. Some patients may require additional sessions to achieve optimal results. It is important to note that while some patients may experience immediate relief from symptoms, others may require several weeks or even months to see the full benefits of shockwave therapy.

What to Expect During a Shockwave Therapy Session

Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive procedure that uses high-energy acoustic waves to treat plantar fasciitis. If you are considering shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis, here is what you can expect during a session:

  • Procedure of Shockwave Therapy: During the session, the therapist will apply a gel to the affected area to help the shockwaves penetrate the skin. A hand-held device called a shockwave generator will then be used to apply high-energy sound waves to the affected area. The therapist will adjust the intensity and frequency of the waves depending on your individual needs and response to treatment.

  • Length of Session: A typical shockwave therapy session for plantar fasciitis lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. The number of sessions required may vary depending on the severity of the condition, but most patients require 3 to 6 sessions.

  • Pain Management: The shockwaves may cause some discomfort during the session, but the therapist can adjust the intensity of the waves to minimise pain. After the session, you may experience some soreness or tenderness in the treated area, but this should subside within a few days.

Drawbacks of Shockwave Therapy

Side Effects and Risks

Despite the benefits of shockwave therapy, there are some potential side effects and risks associated with the treatment. These include:

  • Bruising, swelling, and redness at the treatment site

  • Numbness or tingling sensation

  • Tendon rupture

  • Increased pain

Cost of Treatment

Shockwave therapy is generally more expensive than traditional treatments for plantar fasciitis, such as rest, ice, and compression or pain medication. Additionally, insurance coverage for shockwave therapy can be limited, meaning that patients may need to pay out of pocket for treatment.

Not Suitable for Everyone

While shockwave therapy is a safe and effective treatment for many individuals with plantar fasciitis, it may not be suitable for everyone. Some groups who should not undergo shockwave therapy include:

  • Pregnant women

  • Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as a history of seizures or nerve damage

  • People taking blood thinners or anti-inflammatory medications

Why does my foot hurt more after Shockwave Therapy?

After receiving shockwave therapy, some patients may experience an increase in pain or discomfort in the treated area. This is a common side effect of the treatment and is usually temporary. The reason for the increased pain is due to the microtrauma caused by the shockwaves, which stimulates the body's natural healing response. The healing process can cause inflammation and discomfort, but this is a necessary step in the recovery process.

It is important to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your healthcare provider to ensure proper rest and recovery. This may include avoiding high-impact activities, using ice or heat therapy, and taking pain medication as directed. Adequate rest and recovery will allow your body to heal properly and minimize any discomfort or pain after the treatment.

Importance of rest and recovery

  • Resting the treated foot and avoiding any strenuous activity can help with the healing process

  • Applying ice packs to the treated area can reduce inflammation and pain

  • Avoiding activities that may aggravate the condition, such as running or jumping, for a few days after the treatment is important.

Alternatives to Shockwave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

PRP therapy involves injecting the patient's own platelets into the affected area to promote healing. Studies have shown that PRP therapy can be effective in treating plantar fasciitis.It is a minimally invasive treatment that can be done in a clinic or doctor's office.


Surgery may be considered in severe cases of plantar fasciitis that have not responded to other treatments. The most common surgical procedure for plantar fasciitis is called a plantar fasciotomy, which involves cutting the fascia to relieve tension. Surgery may require a longer recovery time and may have risks such as infection and nerve damage.


Does shockwave therapy work for plantar fasciitis?

Yes, shockwave therapy can be an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis. Studies have shown that shockwave therapy can significantly reduce pain and improve function in patients with plantar fasciitis, even in cases where other treatments have failed.

How long does it take for shockwave therapy to work for plantar fasciitis?

What is the success rate of shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis?

Why does my foot hurt more after shockwave therapy?

Can you walk after shockwave therapy?


Plantar fasciitis can be a debilitating condition that affects the daily lives of many individuals. Traditional treatments such as rest, ice, compression, and physical therapy are often the first line of defense. However, in cases where these treatments are not effective, shockwave therapy can be a viable alternative.

Shockwave therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and improving function in patients with plantar fasciitis. It is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that requires no anesthesia and has minimal recovery time.

While there are some drawbacks to shockwave therapy, including the risk of side effects and the cost of treatment, it remains a promising option for those who have exhausted other treatments.

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