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Shockwave Therapy: A Safe and Effective Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

Do you suffer from heel pain related to plantar fasciitis? If so, you’re not alone. Each year, approximately 2 million Americans experience pain due to plantar fasciitis [1], and more than 1 million people visit medical professionals because of this pain [2]. Case in point, as many as 30% of runners experience plantar fasciitis [3]. Many heel-pain-suffers are treated conservatively with rest, massage, stretching, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [4]. However, up to 10% of those suffering from plantar fasciitis do not experience relief with conservative treatments [4] and some will contemplate other treatments, including surgery.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) has been used as an "alternative treatment option for plantar fasciitis for decades due to its noninvasive nature, fast recovery time, and

convenience” [4]. Clinical studies have shown that ESWT is a safe and effective method for the treatment of plantar fasciitis pain [5-9]. For example, when ESWT was used to address

chronic heel pain in 45 running athletes [9], pain on first waking (when heel pain is often the

worst) was reduced after just three treatments and that relief persisted for 12 months. In fact,

ESWT has been shown to successfully treat chronic heel pain after only two applications [7].

Though the biological mechanisms supporting the beneficial clinical outcome of ESWT are

unknown, studies have suggested that ESWT stimulates neovascularization, suppresses

inflammation and generates an analgesic effect which decreases pain [10].


1. Martin RL, Davenport TE, Reischl SF, et al. Heel pain-plantar fasciitis: revision 2014. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014 Nov;44(11):A1-33.

3. Wiegand K, Mercer JA, Navalta JW, et al. Running status and history: A self-report study. Phys Ther Sport. 2019 Jun 5;39:8-15.

4. Sun J, Gao F, Wang Y, et al. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is effective in treating chronic plantar fasciitis: A meta-analysis of RCTs. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Apr;96(15):e6621.

7. Ibrahim MI, Donatelli RA, Schmitz C, et al. Chronic plantar fasciitis treated with two sessions of radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy. Foot Ankle Int. 2010 May;31(5): 391-7.

9. Rompe JD, Decking J, Schoellner C, et al. Shock wave application for chronic plantar fasciitis in running athletes. A prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Sports Med. 2003 Mar-Apr;31(2):268-75.


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