Under normal circumstances, most of us probably associate the word “shockwave” with a destructive force. So when we suggest “shockwave therapy” to a patient, sometimes the first look we get is confusion, or even concern.
However, rather than being painful or destructive, shockwave therapy is actually one of the safest, least painful, and most effective treatments we offer for many kinds of foot or ankle pain! In fact, shockwave therapy—also known as extracorporeal pulse activation treatment, or EPAT—can even help you cut down or eliminate your reliance on pain-relieving medications.
Plus it can actually heal your body, instead of just masking the pain like a cortisone shot.
How Does Shockwave Therapy Actually Work?
So naturally, your first question might be, “How do we get from shockwaves to healing?” The connection isn’t exactly obvious, to say the least.
Here’s a brief analysis of how the treatment works.
Shockwaves are, indeed, a disruptive force. But the waves emitted by our EPAT device aren’t powerful enough to cause any significant or lasting pain.
They are powerful enough, however, to “activate” your cells on a more microscopic level. You might call these microtraumas, or maybe even just “micro-irritations.” Essentially, your cells are disrupted just enough to kick their cellular repair and tissue growth processes into high gear, but not enough for you to notice any ill effects, apart from maybe some very mild soreness for a day or two after a session.
The beneficial cellular effects include the release of natural pain-relieving factors into the local area, formation of new blood vessels to deliver increased oxygen and nutrition to the area, and boosting cellular metabolism—just to name a few.
Taken together, the result is relatively rapid relief from pain, as well as accelerated cellular repair processes. You don’t just feel better more quickly; you get better more quickly.
And again, it does this almost (if not entirely) painlessly, and without requiring you to put any drugs or medicine in your system. It’s a 100% natural treatment remedy that works by “gently encouraging” your body to complete the normal repair work it’s already supposed to be doing.
When Should I Consider Shockwave Therapy?
The effects of shockwave therapy are broadly beneficial to a wide range of injuries, especially those that develop in soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
EPAT is especially useful as:
- A first-line therapy for recent acute injuries. If you sustain a sudden trauma (like an ankle sprain, for example), stepping in right away with shockwave therapy can help you quickly get the pain and swelling under control and boost the healing process. In some cases, we’ve seen shockwave therapy help our patients cut down their expected post-injury recovery period by 30 to 50 percent—both because they heal faster, and because faster healing also reduces the amount of rehab that needs to be done.
- A “second level” option for chronic pain. Let’s say you have a case of chronic plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis that isn’t responding to normal conservative treatments like rest or stretching. EPAT might then be recommended to help “restart” the stalled healing process, allowing you to finally get better. Quite often this allows our patients to avoid surgical treatment.
Shockwave Therapy with Other Treatments
Now, if you are looking to upgrade your walks, you can take a hike instead! But to keep it low-impact, make sure you start with low-grade terrain and that you are equipped with the right footwear for the job.
For a beautiful hiking experience in Austin, you can head to Mount Bonnell in the western part of the city. At 785 feet tall, Mount Bonnell is the highest point in Austin. It is the perfect place to go when you are looking for a scenic route that is also less strenuous than many hiking trails. There you can climb 106 steps to the hilltop park that overlooks Lake Austin and all the gorgeous homes that are perched alongside it.
So are you ready to strap on those boots and hit the woods? Well, get to it. And don’t forget to keep in mind all the hiking do’s and don’ts.
A State-of-the-Art Approach to Care
At Austin Foot & Ankle, we think our patients deserve the best. That’s why we’ve invested in advanced technology and continue to hone our skills in the most cutting-edge surgical and nonsurgical treatment techniques. Shockwave therapy is just one example, but there are many others.
If you’re dealing with any kind of foot or ankle pain, don’t wait any longer to make the call. Our team is dedicated to making sure you get the care you need, so you can return quickly and safely to full activity! Reach out by calling our Austin office at (512) 328-8900, or clicking the button below to request an appointment online.