Purpose of Technology: Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a noninvasive treatment for chronic plantar fasciitis that involves delivery of shock waves to the painful region of the heel with the goal of reducing pain, increasing function, and promoting healing of the affected soft tissue. Focused ESWT directs shock waves at a targeted area with high tissue penetration where it stimulates healing and disrupts pain signals.

Controversy: The effectiveness of ESWT in the treatment of plantar fasciitis is controversial. Despite years of use, there are no established treatment parameters for ESWT, which vary widely across study protocols, including energy density, number of sessions and shocks used, use of high- or low-energy machines, and whether local anesthesia is used. Also, patients with plantar fasciitis may recover spontaneously over time. 

Relevant Questions:

  • Does focused ESWT reduce heel pain, increase function, and improve quality of life in patients with plantar fasciitis?

  • Is focused ESWT safe?

  • For which patients might focused ESWT provide a benefit?


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