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Plantar Fasciitis, Shockwave Therapy and Osteopathy

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Anyone who has felt the debilitating heel pain characteristic of plantar fasciitis can attest to its deep impact on daily life. Plantar heel pain and accounts for approximately 11-15% of foot symptoms presenting to healthcare providers. The pain is more than just a physical sensation; it becomes an impediment to regular movement, affecting quality of life and emotional well-being. This underscores the importance of effective treatments. Let’s delve into the nuances of plantar fasciitis, the limitations of traditional treatment, and the promising therapeutic potential of shockwave therapy and osteopathy.

Plantar fasciitis

Understanding Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a condition wherein the thick band of tissue, the plantar fascia, which runs underneath the foot, becomes inflamed. This inflammation often results in sharp heel pain, especially upon taking the first steps in the morning or after prolonged sitting (Thomas, Jones, Doherty, & Mallen, 2017).

On the other hand, the term "plantar fasciopathy" denotes degenerative changes in the fascia rather than inflammation. This distinction suggests that our understanding of the condition is evolving and is more intricate than previously thought.

Plantar fasciitis cause

Implications for Sufferers

Pain is just the beginning:

  1. Lifestyle Limitations: Activities like walking, shopping, or even simply standing become challenging.

  2. Mental Health Concerns: Chronic pain often leads to anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation (Brennan, Turner, & Muller, 2017).

  3. Economic Consequences: Some might need to reduce working hours or bear medical expenses.

Limitations of Conventional Treatments for plantar fasciitis

The standard protocol for plantar fasciitis management encompasses rest, pain relievers, and physiotherapy. However, these have their setbacks:

  • Temporary Relief: Medications often offer short-term pain relief, failing to address underlying causes.

  • Potential Side Effects: Continuous use of certain medications can lead to side effects, including gastrointestinal complications.

  • Inconvenience: Regular physiotherapy sessions can be time-consuming and ineffective.

The Promise of Shockwave Therapy for Heel Pain

Recently, shockwave therapy has gained traction as an innovative treatment for plantar fasciitis. Here, acoustic waves are sent to the pain site, fostering healing and diminishing pain.

A meta-analysis revealed that shockwave therapy is a safe and effective modality to treat plantar fasciitis, especially for those unresponsive to conventional treatments (Aqil, Siddiqui, Solan, Redfern, Gulati, & Cobb, 2013).

Shockwave therapy plantar fasciitis

Osteopathy’s Contribution to Managing Heel Pain

Osteopathy presents a holistic approach, focusing on whole-body health, which can be especially effective for conditions like plantar fasciitis. While specific studies on osteopathy's efficacy for plantar fasciitis are limited, osteopathic techniques have been beneficial for various musculoskeletal conditions, suggesting potential applicability to plantar fasciitis as well (Licciardone et al., 2016).

Osteopathy treatment foot pain

The techniques we use at our West Auckland Osteopathic Clinic for for Plantar Fasciitis

Soft Tissue Manipulation: Osteopaths use their hands to apply pressure to and stretch the muscles and fascia on the bottom of the foot. This technique helps to increase blood flow, reduce muscle tightness, and alleviate pain.

Foot Mobilisation: Gentle movement and manipulation of the bones in the foot can help improve their alignment. Proper alignment can relieve stress and tension on the plantar fascia, thus aiding in pain reduction.

Counterstrain Technique: Here, the foot is moved into a position of comfort, held for a period, and then slowly returned to its neutral position. This method is believed to reset the neuromuscular reflexes associated with the affected muscles and fascia.

Myofascial Release: Slow and sustained pressure is applied to release tension within the fascia. Releasing fascial restrictions can alleviate pain and improve foot function.

Deep Tissue Massage: This involves applying deep pressure to the sole and arch of the foot. Massaging can alleviate pain, reduce muscle tension, and improve circulation, promoting healing.

Strengthening & Stretching Exercises: These focus on improving the strength of muscles in the foot and lower leg as well as stretching the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles. Stronger muscles can better support the arch of the foot, decreasing stress on the plantar fascia and regular stretching can reduce tension on the plantar fascia, improve flexibility, and promote healing.

Plantar fasciitis treatment auckland

No need to suffer any longer book in with your local West Auckland Osteopath & Shockwave therapy specialists

Plantar fasciitis and plantar fasciopathy, while common, can be severely debilitating. While conventional treatments have their merits, the emerging therapeutic options, such as shockwave therapy and osteopathy, hold substantial promise. Those grappling with heel pain might consider exploring these avenues, always under the watchful eyes of a medical professional.


Jonathan Hall M.Ost, GradDipHeal, BAppSci (HB)

Jonathan Hall is the founder and principle Osteopath at Movement Mechanics Osteopathy, and specialises in Shockwave Therapy. A fully qualified Osteopath and currently studying Western Medical Acupuncture out of AUT New Zealand, Jonathan founded Auckland Shockwave Therapy to help bring evidence-based Shockwave treatment to New Zealand using the industry leading EMS Radial Shock Wave device.

Thomas, M. J., Jones, R. A., Doherty, M., & Mallen, C. D. (2017). The epidemiology of symptomatic midfoot osteoarthritis in community-dwelling older adults: cross-sectional findings from the Clinical Assessment Study of the Foot. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 19(1), 169.

Brennan, M. K., Turner, R. J., & Muller, R. (2017). Dimensions of depressive symptoms and c-reactive protein in hospitalized patients and community dwellers. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 40(4), 634-643.

Aqil, A., Siddiqui, M. R., Solan, M., Redfern, D. J., Gulati, V., & Cobb, J. P. (2013). Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is effective in treating chronic plantar fasciitis: A meta-analysis of RCTs. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 471(11), 3645-3652.

Licciardone, J. C., Gatchel, R. J., & Aryal, S. (2016). Recovery from chronic low back pain after osteopathic manipulative treatment: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 116(3), 144-155.

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