Lasting irritations on the heel can result in development of small particles of calcium at the point where the plantar fascia is attached to the heel bone. As a result, a painful heel spur occurs which is visible on x-ray. In the Netherlands they do a lot of research about heel spur treatment, or "hielspoor behandeling" as they call it in dutch.
Traditional Methods of Treatment
Apart from invasive surgery, the following conservative methods of treatment are commonly used by many patients. Majority of them have improved significantly within a very short time.
1. Proper positioning of the foot
Patients are advised to control the position of their feet through wearing proper shoe gear that includes heel pads, tapping the foot, or using night splints and arch supports.
2. Minimizing inflammation
Inflammation on the heel can be reduced through having adequate rest, application of ice, massage, physiotherapy, application of anti-inflammation medication, and injection of corticosteroid medication.
3. Achieving and maintaining flexibility
This involves stretching and some range of motion exercises. Movement is very important when you want to do your daily activiities. If you can not move like the way you want to, you feel restricted and uncomfortable.
It is very unfortunate that some patients may still experience heel spurs after sometime following the above recommended medical procedures. In the past, invasive surgery was the only option for such type of patients. These days, shockwave therapy is a productive non-surgical technique for treating a heel spur.
Shockwave therapy is a quick and moderate method of treating heel spurs. Invasive surgery, injections, and medications are not involved in this kind of treatment. During this procedure, high pressure shockwaves that are pneumatically produced are forced to travel through the skin. Bone calcification and inflamed soft tissues that are subjected to high energy pulses will completely heal without causing any harm to the surrounding tissues. It is important to note that electricity that is not passed through the painful area but, high energy pulsations of ultrasonic waves that enhances the natural healing process.
The Recommended Nature of Patients
Shockwave therapy is recommended to patients who have chronic heel spurs. It is reserved for special cases where other forms of treatment did not produce satisfactory relief. It is however not suitable to children, pregnant women, and patients on blood clotting inhibiting medications.
Shockwave Therapy Process
After determination if you qualify for the treatment, the physician will undertake a simple manual examination and marking of the painful area. Ultrasonic transmission gel is then applied on the foot. The shockwave therapy device will then be placed on the sore area to transmit shockwaves over the painful area. You will be asked to give feedback that will enable in determination of the suitable positioning of the device and setting of proper impulse frequency. After you are comfortable at lowest possible level, energy will be gradually increased for several minutes. The duration of a typical session is about 20 minutes. You will need a single session per week for a period of 3 weeks. After the initial session, most patients will notice considerable improvement. Overall healing will continue for the next 3 months after the last session.
There are no side effects since there is no anesthesia, surgery, medications, or injections involved. However some patients may experience short periods of warmth, numbness, or slight tingling immediately after the treatment.