Shocking Your Feet Could Make Them Feel Better

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Painful footIt was during the Second World War that people began realizing the effects sound waves could have on the human body. They noticed internal injuries in soldiers from explosions even when they were far away from any physical contact from them, and concluded they were caused by the shockwaves. 

Over the next decades, possible medical uses for this knowledge were explored, and in the 1980s, practitioners began using controlled application of shockwaves to break up kidney stones. In the 1990s, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) began being used for orthopedic problems such as tendon and bone issues.

Today ESWT is used to treat conditions such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis in your feet. It is not the first choice, however. Those involve conservative measures such as supportive shoes, custom orthotics, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications, and a program of stretches and exercises to recondition the tissues involved.

These methods don’t always bring enough relief so you can function normally, though, so ESWT is a possible next step. You will find some medical professionals who support the therapy and others who say it doesn’t work. Both may be correct, because each patient is different and all of us don’t respond equally to the same healing methods, although we have found many patience respond very well and can achieve great results with ESWT.

Unfortunately, many insurance companies will not cover the procedure due to a perceived lack of controlled studies on the technology. However, if you have tried conservative treatment and still suffer from pain that limits your activities, you may want to try shockwave therapy before opting for a surgery that has more risks and requires longer recovery and time off work.

Shockwave treatments are done on an outpatient basis and involve probes that are placed on the skin to deliver the sound waves to the painful area. You can normally bear weight on your foot afterward, although you will want to limit your physical activity somewhat in the next couple of weeks.

If you suffer chronic foot pain and other remedies have not taken care of it, call Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston, TX at (281) 497-2850 and we can discuss whether ESWT might be the next step for you. To learn more about heel pain and its treatment, ask for our book When Your Heels Hurt...You Hurt All Over! and we will get your free copy right out to you with no further obligation.
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