The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Does Shockwave Therapy Work For Foot Pain In NYC?

Posted by on Monday, February 2nd, 2015

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Australian pharmacist Anne Clark suffered from hereditary bunions and worried that her only option was surgery. Not wanting to undergo the intrusiveness of surgery, she looked into shockwave treatment as an alternative therapy. She traveled to the Central Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic in Hong Kong, as microcurrent therapy was not yet available in Perth. After ten sessions, Anne reported that she was officially pain-free.

Back home, she recalls, “I sent both [X-Rays] to my podiatrist and he was astonished at the results. Nobody can believe I ever had bunions. The treatment was worth every cent.” If you are suffering from chronic foot pain, you may be wondering, is Ms. Clark’s case the exception or the rule?

shockwave therapy
Shockwave therapy devices vary — and so do success rates, depending on the experience and knowledge of the foot doctor. Image Source: Wikimedia.org

What Is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy was first discovered by Italian neurophysicist Carlo Matteucci in 1830, but gained widespread recognition in the 1980s when Olympic track star Mary Decker and marathon runner Joan Benoit claimed it helped heal their injuries. Unlike transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, which suppresses pain, microcurrent treatment uses low-level electrical currents (about one-millionth the intensity of a AA battery) to restore normal frequencies in cells that have been disturbed by injury. It’s believed these signals stimulate an increase in adenosine triphosphate, which facilitates protein synthesis and tissue repair. The electrical current is so modest that there is no patient discomfort during application, and no adverse effects reported—although it is not recommended for patients with pacemakers or pregnant women.

Successful Treatment Depends On The Foot Doctor

There is much research pointing to the effectiveness of shockwave therapy in the treatment of Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, and fracture healing. However, several small studies indicate that it takes an experienced and knowledgeable foot doctor to get the treatment just right. Researcher and Polytechnic University Professor Gladys Cheing found that shockwave treatment did little to help 16 patients with tennis elbow, but she believes a larger-scale study may produce better results. “It’s important that doctors are able to identify the right therapeutic window for a particular patient,” she said.

“The use of the right modality, if delivered at the wrong dosage could produce adverse effects,” Cheing added. “Also, the parameters adopted in microcurrent units vary. This may explain why there are negative results reported by clinicians or patients. It is difficult to find the right dosage for each patient, and the therapist gives up at a certain point.” She concluded that more research is needed to “identify the right set of treatment parameters” for all therapy to be considered successful.

Milly Ng at Central Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic agreed that shockwave therapy requires a sound knowledge of anatomy, patience, and intuition. “If you don’t have the skill and the patience to trace the correct path, or locate the correct spot, treatment is futile,” she explained. “Because microcurrent cannot be sensed, patients have no idea whether it is working and the result is not instant. So it is not as popular as it should be.”

Get Effective Shockwave Therapy in NYC

Dr. Josef J. Geldwert and his team have been practicing successful shockwave therapies at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC for more than a decade. Often, it is not used exclusively—but, rather, as part of a comprehensive pain management and treatment program. For instance, they treated one triathlete patient suffering from chronic Achilles tendon pain with a combination of strength training, biopuncture injection therapy, and custom orthotics—in addition to shockwave therapy. Contact us to learn more about New York shockwave therapy, or how we can help you with your foot pain.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.