The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue running along the bottom of your foot from the back of your heel to the base of your toes. This band stretches like a bowstring to help maintain your arch, among other functions.
If the fascia becomes inflamed, the resulting condition is known as plantar fasciitis, and it produces a characteristic pain under the heel.
At Viva Health, board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Aleksander J. Bodnar offers his patients a novel treatment to deal with their plantar fasciitis as well as sexual dysfunction — acoustic wave therapy, aka extracorporeal shock wave therapy.
Getting to know your plantar fascia
The plantar fascia is more than just an arch supporter. It also acts as a shock absorber when you walk, run, or jump.
If you’re active, especially if you’re a runner, you run the risk of too much repetitive stress on the band. Small tears develop in the tissue, leading to inflammation and, ultimately, pain in the heel.
The ligament naturally tightens as you sleep, so any pain you feel is usually worse in the morning. Do some stretching exercises immediately after you get up to get the fascia to relax.
If you have a severe case, though, you may not be able to stretch the ligament enough to relieve the pain, so it lingers all day.
What’s acoustic wave therapy?
Acoustic wave therapy treats soft tissue problems and is highly effective for myofascial pain syndrome, pain in the tissue covering the muscles. It uses high-frequency sound waves to target a range of musculoskeletal conditions, encouraging the body to help heal itself.
This noninvasive, FDA-approved, office-based procedure works through various mechanisms:
Forms new blood vessels
To start and maintain the repair processes of damaged tissue, the body requires oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood flow. Applying acoustic waves leads to blood vessel formation in the fascia.
Reverses chronic inflammation
Mast cells are a key component of the inflammatory process, and acoustic waves increase their activity, which may seem counterproductive.
However, their activation sets up the production of chemokines and cytokines, pro-inflammatory compounds that first enhance inflammation but then help restore normal healing and regenerative processes.
Stimulates collagen production
Collagen is a key protein for tissue structure, and a sufficient amount is required to repair damaged myoskeletal and ligament structures like the fascia. Shock wave therapy accelerates procollagen synthesis.
Breaks up calcified fibroblasts
Calcium buildup often occurs alongside micro-tears or other tissue trauma, leading to additional pain and stiffness. Acoustic waves break up the calcifications and allow the soft tissue to heal.
Disperses pain mediator ‘substance P’
Substance P is a neuropeptide and neurotransmitter that controls pain signals moving through the specialized C-fibers, and it’s usually associated with intense, persistent, and chronic pain. Acoustic waves disperse the peptide, reducing pain.
If your plantar fasciitis is a pain in the neck as well as a pain under your heel, you’re in luck; acoustic wave therapy can help. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Bodnar, call Viva Health in Clifton or Linden, New Jersey, or book online today.