Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Foot FAQ

Question:

Have you ever heard of shock-wave therapy for plantar fasciitis? I've tried everything else -- I'm game for anything that might work.

Answer:

Many people suffer from foot pain attributed to plantar fasciitis. But when the pain becomes chronic and lasts months to years, the problem isn't one of inflammation but rather a failure to heal. The condition is referred to as plantar fasciopathy. Chronic pain from plantar fasciopathy likely starts out as plantar fasciitis, a true inflammatory process. If caught early, such cases can be cured with conservative care such as stretching exercises. But a failed healing response can lead to continued, unresolved pain. Shock-wave therapy has been shown effective in other conditions because it gets rid of substance P (P stands for Pain) in the sensory nerve fibers and in the spinal cord (pathway to the brain). Shock-wave therapy also stimulates and speeds up the healing response -- at least that's what other studies have shown when using this tool. But a recent study from Germany reported that stretching the fascia was much more effective than shock-wave therapy for foot pain attributed to plantar fascia problems. The patients did not have chronic pain -- they all had plantar fasciitis for less than six weeks. So future studies are needed to see what effect (if any) this tool might have for folks like you with chronic symptoms. Jan D. Rompe, MD, et al. Plantar Fascia-Specific Stretching Versus Radial Shock-Wave Therapy as Initial Treatment of Plantar Fasciopathy. In The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. November 3, 2010. Vol. 92. No. 15. Pp. 2514-2522.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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