Many people of suffer from heel pain, particularly first thing in the morning when they get out of bed and get on their feet. Usually, the pain level will subside slightly as one starts moving, but it may still be painful enough to limit one’s activity levels. Toward the end of the day, pain level can again increase, as the soft tissue structures of the foot begin to fatigue and swell. In most cases, the cause of this heel pain is plantar fasciitis. However, such symptoms should be evaluated by a board certified podiatrist, as other possible causes include: achilles tendinitis, bursitis, rheumatoid arthritis, or even stress fractures.
What is EPAT?
Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Treatment (EPAT), aka shockwave therapy, is one of the latest, non-invasive technologies used to treat heel pain. It is especially popular in sports medicine, though it has been adopted across multiple medical specialties, including podiatry, around the world. The FDA has approved it, based on its demonstrated effectiveness in multiple clinical studies for the treatment of different types of chronic pain, including heel pain.
EPAT actually works by creating small, controlled areas of trauma on a cellular level. While this sounds counterintuitive, the purpose is to encourage the body to accelerate its natural healing mechanisms, regenerating blood vessels and stimulating cellular production. Both an increased blood flow and the creation of new cells translate into more rapid healing. Therefore, EPAT therapy is a safe, non-invasive procedure for treating these types of issues.
There are two types of shockwave therapy, low-energy and high-energy shockwaves. Low energy shock ]waves are simple and not at all painful. This type of therapy is administered 3-5 times (usually weekly, although actual frequency depends on the severity of your condition) to achieve the desired results. High-energy shockwaves, on the other hand, typically consists of a single session. Note: High-energy sessions may be slightly more painful and can require the use of a local anesthetic.
EPAT uses low-energy shockwaves to relieve heel pain involves creating a series of movement that put tension on the affected area of the heel that is causing pain. Your podiatrist will search for the area where the pain originates from, through the use of palpitation or ultrasound. He or she will then demarcate the area for treatment and apply contact gel. Using the shockwave hand piece, your podiatrist will transmit shock waves to the heel for about several minutes. While the procedure is not painful, it may be uncomfortable for some patients. However, many patients experience a reduction in heel pain in days or weeks. This enables most patients to resume normal activity quickly compared to any type of invasive procedure like surgery.
EPAT therapy has no negative side effects. You don’t need to use medications or injections with the treatment.
If you’ve been dealing with chronic heel pain or even achilles tendinitis, call Houston Foot and Ankle Care at (713) 541-3199 to learn more about the treatments available. Dr. Maisloscan diagnose your condition and propose the best treatment for you, whether that is EPAT, the Tenex procedure, or even surgery.
Call (713) 541-3199 if you experience:
- chronic, daily heel pain
- heightened pain with first few steps in the morning
- reduction in activity level due to discomfort