Which treatment is proven to be the MOST effective for heel pain? The results are in – video included!

Which treatment is proven to be the MOST effective for heel pain? The results are in – video included!

Heel pain is an ongoing and frustrating struggle for many New Zealanders right now. The most common cause is plantar fasciitis, often (incorrectly) referred to as heel spurs, and causes sharp, stabbing pain first thing in the morning and when you stand after rest.

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Heel pain treatments are regularly being studied and reviewed.

Because it’s such a disabling problem, treatments are currently being studied by researchers to help guide every health professional in getting the best (and evidence-based) results for their patients. 

Previously, heel pain treatments have shown positive results in research, but there hasn’t been a stand out treatment where one has had significantly more evidence behind it and better results than others…

… until now.

If you have heel pain, you should know that…

Before we tell you which treatment has come out on top in a paper that was published earlier this month, there are a couple of things that you’ve got to understand if you have heel pain.

The first is that your ‘level’ of injury may be very different from the next person we see with heel pain – and this can lead to you both getting different results at different times. Think of it like getting a tear in your shirt. You may have a very small tear at the bottom of your shirt. Someone else may have had a very large tear that extends from one side of their shirt to the other. Regardless of this (significant) difference, both of these people are told that they have a tear in their shirt.

It’s the same with plantar fasciitis and heel pain. Someone might have a small amount of damage, while someone else may have completely torn their fascia. Either way, they have heel pain from a damaged plantar fascia. Same same, but very different. 

What this also means for plantar fasciitis research, is that it can be hard to compare results in these studies because not everyone is at the same ‘baseline’.


So tell us, which treatment has come out on top?

We won’t leave you in suspense, it’s shockwave treatment. Otherwise known as radial pressure wave treatment, it has been evaluated with robust research designs and has shown significantly better outcomes in treating plantar fasciitis than anything else in the medium and long-term. 

Shockwave uses acoustic energy to radiate ‘pulses’ from the handpiece into the skin below, as it comes in contact with your foot. It works to:

  • Reduce pain
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Facilitate the body’s healing and repair process for new injuries
  • Reboot the healing process in longstanding conditions or injuries
  • Encourage the formation of new blood vessels
  • Stimulate the regeneration of tendons
  • Reduce muscle spasticity
  • Disintegrate tendon calcifications

If you want to learn more about shockwave and if it can help you, we’ve written all about it here.

Want to read the short version of the paper? There’s a great summary form Bartold Clinic here.


Wondering what’s best for the short-term?

According to the research, it’s actually specific stretching. Remember, this is only to help reduce immediate symptoms, and doesn’t actually ‘fix’ the problem for the long-term – not on its own, anyway.


Cut the research, what results have YOU been getting with shockwave and heel pain?

Our results have been very encouraging – and yes, before you ask, they do involve shockwave. We treat plantar fasciitis heel pain by using a combination of:

  • Shockwave, usually up to four treatments (depending on the severity of your pain) spaced 4-10 days apart
  • Footwear recommendations – getting you to wear the shoes that help your recovery instead of working against it!
  • Exercises that load the tissues (isometrically) with specific exercises – meaning that we get you to engage the right muscles and tissues in a specific way
  • Strapping your foot – to reduce the strain on your plantar fascia, especially in those first painful stages
  • Orthotics – to help support and offload the plantar fascia while you continue to walk throughout the day

Our experienced podiatrists determine which combination of the above treatments are best for you based on your symptoms and the severity of your injury – there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment at Masterton Foot Clinic. 


… And what does this all mean?

It means that while we’ve known and loved the results we’ve been helping patients get with shockwave, it’s being recognised in studies by researchers and others across the world too. Which means that if you have heel pain, shockwave is a great place to start. And we offer it right here at Masterton Foot Clinic.


Ready to beat your heel pain? Book in with our podiatry team here.


Bartold Clinical has summarised the paper nicely – you can read it here.