What is the Treatment for Chronic Plantar Fasciitis?

In most cases, plantar fasciitis responds to conservative treatment. Conservative treatment is aimed at pain relief and reducing inflammation, and may include the following:

Modifications of activity - Activities that make the pain worse should be avoided.

Modification of footwear – A well made shoe with gel or air cushioning in the heel, and good arch supports, is often an effective treatment. A sole cushion placed in the shoes may provide additional relief. Changes in footwear (custom orthotics, pre-made orthotics, heel cups, pads, motion-controlled shoes) may be useful in some patients.

Medication - Anti-inflammatory medication, which include ibuprofen or other prescription medications are usually taken daily for 4-6 weeks as prescribed by your physician. If no relief has been obtained, your doctor may inject the heel with Cortisone. Cortisone is an anti inflammatory, providing temporary relief lasting for a period of weeks to several months.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises - Stretching and strengthening exercises are felt to be very beneficial in the treatment plan. A gentle stretching program consists of range of motion of the heel and ankle. This is often combined with a program of muscle strengthening. Your physician or physical therapist will instruct you on a supervised program.

Straps/Braces – Night splints or a short leg-walking cast may help to take the stress off of the heel and ankle and keep the foot in a neutral position.

Who is a Candidate for Treatment with High Energy Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy?

In some instances, conservative therapies fail. High Energy Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy has been approved for use by the FDA on adults who have been treated by a physician for chronic plantar fasciitis for at least six months without success.

Treating Heel Pain with the OssaTron®

The OssaTron® is a high-energy machine used to treat Chronic Plantar Fasciitis. The OssaTron® uses a spark plug to generate shock waves. The device is a variation of the machine used in the treatment of kidney stones called a lithotripter. The lithotripter uses shock waves to break up kidney stones.

According to Dr. Argil Wheelock of HealthTronics, the OssaTron® device works by using energy to disrupt scar tissue, causing microscopic damage to the tissue. "You then get new blood vessel growth into the area, which allows the normal tissue healing cells to come in and repair the injury." OssaTron® treatments are performed as an outpatient procedure, requiring light general anesthesia. Treatment time is approximately 20 minutes.

What to Expect After Treatment with the OssaTron®

Following the procedure, you will be transferred to the recovery area for a brief observation period. You will be discharged when fully alert and able to walk without difficulty. You will be required to have another person drive you home.

You should wear comfortable soft-soled shoes, such as running, walking or athletic shoes. If you have been using an orthotic (shoe insert) as instructed by your physician, continue to do so.

You may experience some pain or discomfort in the heel that has been treated. Some patients report that the treated heel feels better immediately following the procedure while others report that pain relief takes from four to 12 weeks. It is normal to have some residual pain after intense exercise or a full day of work on your feet.

Normal activities are usually resumed immediately. It is recommended that you do not participate in any stressful activity involving the affected heel until your next visit to your doctor at 4 weeks following treatment. Stressful activity may include running or jogging, doing heavy lifting, yard work or participating in sports.