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Healing Heel Spurs Through Shock

Wave device helps relieve pain from plantar fasciitis

SATURDAY, Sept. 6, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- OssaTron may sound like some weird killer robot in one of those offbeat, animated cartoons.

But it's actually a medical device that uses shock waves to treat heel pain caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis.

The condition, also called heel spur syndrome, typically involves pain and inflammation at the site where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone, says the Washington University School of Medicine.

The plantar fascia is a broad, ligament-like structure on the bottom of the foot. It runs from the toes to the heel. Some people with plantar fasciitis also develop a small spur at the site of the inflammation, but the spur doesn't actually cause pain.

The OssaTron is a type of device called a lithotriptor that generates shock waves. Lithotriptors were originally developed as a non-surgical way to treat kidney stones. The shock waves generated by the lithotriptor creates vibrations that break kidney stones into tiny pieces.

The OssaTron isn't used to crush heel spurs. Instead, doctors use it to create a small injury area close to where the plantar fascia connects to the heel bone. The new injury increases blood flow and enhances the supply of blood and nutrients to the area. That promotes healing and relieves the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.

Traditional treatments for heel pain include limiting activity, anti-inflammatory drugs, foot orthotics and stretching exercises for the heel and foot. If those approaches fail to relieve the heel pain, some people opt for surgery. The OssaTron offers an alternative to surgery.

More information

Learn more about heel disorders at the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine
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