Lower leg conditions such as plantar fasciitis and achillies tendinitis are often treated successfully using conventional strategies including strengthening, changing footwear and manual therapy. Occasionally, however, these conditions can prove resistant to conventional treatments. Podiatrist & Sports Scientist, Matt Hart, has introduced shockwave therapy at his clinic. Here he tells us why he has invested in this new technology to treat persistent lower leg issues.
I had always been unsure of shockwave therapy and its use due to the lack of scientific evidence based research. However, I have suffered for ten years with ongoing chronic insertional Achilles tendon issues. This has hampered my running, limiting the intensity and speed at which I could train. For someone who is looking to run under 70 minutes for a half marathon this is very frustrating.
However, after chatting with several podiatrists and physiotherapist peers I thought I would give shockwave therapy a try. I had tried all other conservative treatments/management such as footwear changes, heel raises, strengthening exercises, playing around with my foot strike position etc to no long term success.
After the initial session, which was not a pleasant experience, I was surprised that the pain/discomfort I had been experiencing when walking had gone. Over the next 3-5 days the pain was significantly less than before treatment. I had a further 3 treatments over successive weeks. I combined this with foot orthoses when running, just to reduce load on the tendon, and continued with my regular strengthening work. I was back running pain free for the first time in 2 years.
Now as the Sports Podiatrist at Run Lab Clinics this made me think as to whether this treatment would be useful in clinic to help those with chronic tendon injuries where standard conservative treatments are not working. My clinic now provides the Swiss DolorClast method of shockwave therapy.
The Swiss DolorClast Method used at Run Lab Clinics uses single acoustic pressure waves, called shock waves, to treat musculoskeletal pathologies. By delivering a mechanical stress to injured tissues, Shock Waves enable:
1. Immediate pain relief
2. A healing reaction of the body
The Swiss DolorClast Method is the most well-researched shock wave therapy. A combination of unique technologies, clinically proven protocols and education ensure
significant improvement in given musculoskeletal indications. It is clinically proven that pressure waves, when applied to injured tissues, stimulate metabolic reactions:
1. Reduction of pain felt by nerve fibres
2. Increase of blood circulation in surrounding soft tissues
3. Beginning of healing process triggered by stem cells activation
Used by leading hospitals and clinics for over 25 years, shockwave therapy is a clinically proven non-surgical approach to treating chronic soft tissue injuries. It is used for those injuries that are persistent and have failed to improve after 3 months of regular treatments/management protocols. However, shockwave is NOT a quick fix and does not work on its own.
While many may see a reduction in symptoms from the shockwave itself, the best results are when incorporated with rehabilitation exercises and a plan is followed over a period of several months after. This combination approach has been proved successful in around 80% of cases that have not responded to other treatments. So for those soft tissue injuries such as Achilles tendinopathy or plantar fasciopathy that have not seen improvements after 3 months, the Swiss DolorClast method for shockwave therapy may provide the stimulation to reduce pain and accelerate the healing process helping you get back doing what you enjoy quicker.
If you would like to chat about whether shockwave treatment could work for you or have been suffering from persistent lower leg issues then feel free to contact me.
Mr. Matt Hart BSc (Hons) MCPod
Sports Podiatrist, Run Lab Clinics