The most common cause of heel and arch pain is painful stretching or tearing of the plantar fascia, which runs along the bottom of the foot and supports the arch of the foot. Extracorporeal shock wave treatment is an outpatient procedure in which a medical device uses shock waves to relieve chronic heel pain. A dome filled with water is placed against the heel so shock waves pass through. The shock waves increase blood flow to trigger the healing process so that inflammation and pain subside.
FDA-approved devices for this procedure are the Ossatron, made by SanuWave Inc. of Marietta, Ga.; The Epos Ultra, made by Dornier MedTech, Kennesaw, Ga.; and the Orsabone Pain Relief System, made by Orthometrix Inc., White Plains, N.Y. People who have bleeding disorders, who are taking blood-thinning medication, or who are pregnant, should not undergo shock wave therapy. Complications can include mild neurological symptoms and tears in the tissue in the bottom of the foot.