Plantar Fasciitis - My Experience With EPAT Shockwave Treatment

Plantar Fasciitis - My Experience With EPAT Shockwave Treatment

I know this post is a bit out of 'my lane', but I felt the need to share this great information. So many people I've talked to have never heard about this treatment. 

I have been dealing with plantar fasciitis since October of 2020. I had just bought a new pair of sneakers and I tried them out on my regular 3 mile walk. ( I sure do miss my walks, I can't wait to get back to them!)

Missing my walks

By the time I had finished the walk, my left heel area hurt so bad I was starting to limp. I believe that was the injury that started this whole ordeal.

I didn't think that they were bad shoes. They were a pair of Asics I bought for an amazing deal. For some reason, they killed my feet. That's the only thing I can link to my injury. (And I still wear Ascics, podiatrist recommended.)

Anyways, I ignored my heel for about 3 months, thinking it would get better. It did not. Btw... don't wait like I did. I probably could've saved myself months of pain. If I had gone to the doctor when the pain had just started, it most likely wouldn't have turned into a chronic problem.

In January, 2021, I decided I could no longer take the pain and went to see my podiatrist. First, we started with a prescription of Meloxicam. That took away some of the pain, but as soon as the prescription ran out, we were back to square one.

February 25th, I received my first cortisone shot. That lasted about 1 month. March 29th, I went and got a second cortisone shot. It took 1 week to take affect, and it lasted 2 weeks. The day it stopped working, I could barely walk. My foot hurt so bad.

April 27th, I met with my doctor again and we discussed the next option. He informed me about a newer treatment called EPAT® shockwave treatment. I had never heard of this before. None of my family or friends had heard of this. My brother and sister in law have both had the surgery to fix plantar fasciitis and they had never heard of this.

If you Google it, it's fairly new. When they first started this kind of treatment it was so painful. It had to be done in a hospital and you were put to sleep for it. The treatment was so strong you only needed one.

Now, it's an in office treatment, it's not as intense or painful and you can have several treatments. The machine they use looks like this.

Plantar Fasciitis Shockwave Machine

The EPAT® brochure my doctor gave me said the success rate is 80%. He told me that about 3 out of 4 of his patients have success with this treatment and that they will always try this before surgery.  

That's pretty good in my book! This definitely beats surgery! No time off, no hospital, no recovery time, no pain, no narcotics.... do I need to keep going??

My doctor explained that most patients come into his office in an acute stage with this type injury. Most of the time exercises, stretches and medication will usually solve the issue. Then he will get someone that has started the chronic stage, usually cortisone will relieve their pain.

Then you get someone like me that is stuck in the chronic stage and we're just in a loop that won't stop. Fun, right? He said, we will still try all of the other things, because it's hard to know exactly what stage each patient is in with their injury.

For someone in the chronic stage, the shockwave treatment kind of reboots the system. Like when your computer is acting up and you don't know why, sometimes if you just restart it it fixes itself. It's kind of fascinating. 

EPAT® stands for Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Treatment.  This is non-invasive and is approved by the FDA. 

It is a set of pressure waves that stimulate the metabolism and enhance the blood circulation at the injury site and works to start the healing process. It kind of tricks the body into thinking it needs to send blood to heal an injury. The damaged area begins to regenerate and starts to heal. 

I've been asked if insurance covers it.... well, it may depend on your insurance, but I can tell you that it will be WAY less then what you would pay for surgery, at least for me. I feel this has been worth every penny! We have a very high deductible with an HSA for our insurance and I've paid more for the new inserts than I have for the treatments.

I had a series of 4 treatments, one week apart. You can't skip a week, so you need to make sure that you are available for all of them. I was not supposed to take any NSAIDS (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) during the treatments. You don't want to stop inflammation or blood flow to the injury. 

I asked my doctor if I could continue my daily 3 mile walks during this treatment. He recommended that I stop that for now and allow the foot to heal.

If I needed any pain relief, I could take acetaminophen. I also could use heat or a foot soak, but I didn't need any. I was fine.

May 5, was my first treatment.  I was nervous, I didn't know what to expect. He started me at 1.6 (I don't know what that means, but that's what he said. I believe it's the strength of the pulses.) He applied a sonogram type of gel to my foot and used a tool on the injured area. 

Receiving Shockwave treatment for plantar fasciitis

It didn't hurt. It felt uncomfortable. I'm a BIG baby, very low pain tolerance. This is the best I can describe it... if you've ever hit your funny bone, you know the zingers that happen. That's kind of how if feels, but deeper and more consistent. It never felt so bad that I wanted to pull my foot away.

And anyone that knows me, knows I do NOT like people touching my feet! But I just kept telling myself this is WAY better than surgery. I can do this! 

The treatment lasted for about 10-15 minutes. Each treatment should be around 3000 pulses.

You can see a short clip below.

How did I feel afterwards? Fine. Was the pain gone? No, my doctor told me, that I most likely wouldn't see any improvement until after the 3rd treatment. 

May 12th, was my second treatment. Basically, the same as the last, but he upped the pulse intensity.

Closeup of shockwave treatment for plantar fasciitis

May 19th, my third treatment. I was actually starting to feel some improvement. Yes! He upped the intensity to 3.2. (For some reason I remembered that.)

May 26th was my fourth and final treatment. I was definitely feeling better. He continued with the same intensity and went for about 3400 pulses. 

By the last treatment, the discomfort I felt at the beginning was barely noticeable. It wasn't uncomfortable at all.

I am completely pain free. I will say that my foot gets tired from being on my feet for long periods of time. 

My foot will continue to heal for the next 4-6 weeks. He recommended that I start my walks 2 weeks after my last treatment and to begin slowly, not to jump right into 3 miles.

I was fitted for inserts at my first treatment. I will be wearing those as much as possible. This will help to keep my foot correctly supported to reduce any chance of injury again.

Overall, I am so happy with this type of treatment. I would definitely recommend it to anyone that is dealing with chronic plantar fasciitis.

My doctor did inform me that since this is fairly new, many of the doctors in our area do not offer this treatment. This completely boggles my mind! He said that some doctors, have referred patients to him, especially if a patient is dead set against surgery.

This is such a better route to at least try. I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at thestonybrookhouse@gmail.com

Blessings,
Lori

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