There are many situations in life where you can feel at the end of your rope. You’ve attempted to grow peonies in several different spots in your yard but they always get blight. You’ve tried and tried to quit smoking but you keep going back. You’ve lost weight several times, but the pounds always pile back on and you don’t know what to try next. If you have tried several treatments for your plantar fasciitis but your heel still hurts, maybe it’s time to look at EPAT for heel pain.
What EPAT Stands For
Extracorporeal pulse activation therapy (EPAT) is a medical technology that uses sound waves to treat soreness from foot conditions. It is especially effective for one called plantar fasciitis, which refers to inflammation in the plantar fascia, but has been shown to be effective for a wide range of muscle or tendon pain conditions, such as Achilles tendinitis, bursitis, and others. This band of ligament-like tissue lies at the bottom of your foot and connects your heel and toe bones. Due to various causes like flat feet, overpronation, tight calf muscles and more, the tissue can be overstretched, inflamed, and painful. Repeated inflammation can cause damage in the tissue, leading to small tears that cause even more pain.
How EPAT Works
You’re probably familiar with ultrasound waves that can produce computer images to show you the tissues inside your body. The type of sound waves in extracorporeal pulse activation therapy are more focused and powerful than these, and reach beneath the skin to damaged tissues. They deliver tiny shocks, not pictures.
Just as a jet that breaks the sound barrier or a loud and close clap of thunder can give you an actual, physical jolt, these sound waves “traumatize” the tissue and create microscopic “injuries” in them. Your body senses this slight damage and rushes to counteract it. New capillaries are formed to better deliver nutrients and oxygen needed by the cells to heal, and the waves themselves can help break up tissues that have become fibrous or hardened.
How Treatment Is Delivered
We will inform you of any preparations you should make, such as discontinuing certain medications and refraining from icing the area. You should also know that certain conditions and medications will not allow you to have EPAT.
When you come for your session you will be seated or lying down comfortably with your painful heel exposed. A gel is applied that will help conduct the waves into the tissue. The machine producing the waves will be calibrated for your situation and then the hand-held applicator will be moved gently in a circular motion over your heel.
The treatment only takes about 15 minutes, your foot will be cleaned, and you’ll be free to go. These non-invasive treatments may or may not have a few mild side effects such as redness, slight bruising, and some discomfort immediately afterward.
What Results to Expect
You will likely have three treatments about a week apart. Some people report less pain after even one treatment, and most (about 80%) will tell a difference within the first month or two. The effects will continue and even improve over several months as the tissues continue to heal.
Remember that EPAT is often utilized alongside other conservative treatments. These could include choosing supportive shoes, performing a stretching regimen or physical therapy exercises, or using custom orthotics to relieve pressure on the foot. One of Dr. Parker's favorite is the combination of the EPAT with AmnioFix, a product processed from the lining of the placenta (amnionic/chorionic layers). We like to call these “stem cell magnets” because they can help to signal or recruit your own stem cells to help in the healing a variety of tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, and muscle.
Have more questions about this therapy? Call Dr. Robert Parker at Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston, TX and set up a consultation. We’ll help you figure out if it’s the right next step for you. Reach us by phone at (281) 497-2850 or through our website contact form. You can also request a copy of our free heel pain book by filling out our online form.