EPAT May Be the Best Treatment for Your Heel Pain!—So What Is It?

Dec 10, 2018

If you have been suffering from consistent heel pain and haven’t taken steps to address it, we have one question: What have you been waiting for?

Heel pain is such a common condition, but so many people ultimately choose not to receive the help they need for it. And honestly, we get some of the reasons for it.

It’s a very human behavior to keep convincing yourself that a pain will go away any day now; and hey, it often does. When it comes to heel pain, however, this many times fails to be the case. In some cases, continuing to endure the pain without action can progressively make things worse!

There is also the fear that a condition might involve some kind of complicated treatment or surgery. Nobody wants to endure that if they can avoid it—and the truth is, we never want anyone to have to go through it if there are better alternatives, either.

The good news is that, when it comes to heel pain treatment, there often are effective, advanced alternatives to surgery. One of them that we are proud to provide for our patients is Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology, also known as EPAT.

EPAT for heel pain can be a very effective form of treatment that won’t bog patients with downtime or require any extensive preparation on their part. In some cases, it’s even an effective alternative to surgery.

Dr. Elenburg EPHAT for Heel Pain

So what is EPAT?

“Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology” might sound complicated, but boils down easily to basics.

EPAT sends specific and unique pressure waves through the body and into an area of injury or pain. The goal of these pressure waves is to remove obstacles that may be preventing recovery and stimulate the body’s own natural healing process for faster and more effective repairs. Better repairs means better relief of pain.

How do energy waves do this? They have the ability to:

  • Break up scar tissue that may be impeding the progress of recovery.
  • Stimulate metabolism in the area. In other words, the cells conduct their jobs faster, including repairs.
  • Enhance blood flow to the area. Blood carries oxygen and essential nutrients to cells. It basically provides them the tools they need to conduct their recovery operations. The more blood flow an area receives, the better and faster it will be able to take care of business.

The entirety of the treatment lies within encouraging the body to heal faster and more effectively. It involves no use of drugs, diet restrictions, or any other weird rituals for preparation.

What happens during an EPAT session?

A standard EPAT session will begin with gel being applied to the area of the heel in need of treatment. The EPAT applicator is then pressed to the area and pressure waves are released in a steady, pulsing rhythm.

The treatment might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, sort of like getting a rubber band snapped against you, but tends to feel gentler after a couple minutes or so. There is no need for anesthesia at any point.

A typical EPAT session will last about 10 minutes, but may be a little shorter or longer depending on the type of condition being treated and the size of the treatment area. A series of sessions will be scheduled over the course of several weeks or a few months—again depending on the specific condition and needs of the patient.

Heel pain relief may start to be felt immediately after the first treatment in some cases, but may take up to 4 weeks for others. There might also be some minor discomfort for a day or two after a session, but no other side effects have ever been recorded.

There is absolutely no downtime following an EPAT session, either. You can get up and walk right out as soon as you are finished.

What kinds of heel conditions can EPAT treat?

Multiple forms of musculoskeletal foot and heel pain can potentially be treated through EPAT. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Achilles Tendinitis and other forms of Achilles injuries
  • Other forms of tendon pain
  • Neuromas

Sports injuries in the foot and ankle tend to be good candidates for EPAT treatment, as increasing healing and recovery rates means that an athlete can safely get back to their full routines sooner.

Closeup of female right foot heel pain, with red spot

Is EPAT a good option for me?

Determining whether EPAT or another heel pain treatment option is best for you will depend on the cause of your pain, health history, lifestyle, and goals.

There are a few conditions that may complicate the use of EPAT, such as deep vein thrombosis. If you have one of these conditions, we might have to limit EPAT use, or not use it at all.

In some situations, a different form of treatment may be better at addressing the root causes of your heel pain, and may be used instead of or in addition to EPAT. Custom orthotics, for example, can provide support and correction for an abnormal gait that might be contributing to your plantar fasciitis, helping prevent it from coming back once it heals.

Once again, surgery will never be considered as an option unless we have determined that conservative methods just aren’t going to work. We’ll be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each option with you fully before we decide upon a path forward.

It’s time to find a solution for your heel pain! Call Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma at (405) 418-2676 to schedule an appointment and receive answers to any questions you might have. If you prefer, you can also request an appointment via our website.

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