At Rainier Foot & Ankle Associates, we think our patients deserve the best. That’s why we provide a variety of advanced, conservative, and regenerative therapies designed to accelerate the healing process and help patients recover from foot and ankle pain as quickly and safely as possible.
One tool that we use frequently is extracorporeal pulse activation treatment, also known as EPAT Therapy or shockwave therapy.
EPAT Therapy is a regenerative therapy that uses high-pressure acoustic waves to mechanically stimulate cellular repair in a region of damaged or injured tissue. The "shockwaves" help increase blood and nutrient flow to the area, break up calcified deposits in soft tissues, and trigger other natural healing effects.
During the treatment session, the waves cause microscopic damage to tissue in the treatment zone. This "friendly fire" is very minor and quickly repaired by the body. But in doing this micro-damage, EPAT also "signals" the body to begin a healthy inflammatory response that accelerates, or even restarts, the healing process for the injury being treated.
EPAT Therapy is an excellent option for patients suffering from chronic, recalcitrant soft tissue pain, such as cases of plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis that have lingered and not responded to other treatments. It also may be effective for bone healing.
Individual EPAT treatment sessions are very brief. Typically 10-15 minutes are all that's needed per session, depending on how many regions need treatment and how large they are.
The number of sessions required varies based on the condition, but most people need about 3-5 sessions scheduled at weekly intervals. Because each session helps trigger natural healing processes that continue to repair the underlying damage, each successive session should lead to even greater improvements in your symptoms.
During the procedure, we'll elevate your foot and apply some contact gel to the area being treated. This helps ensure that the shockwaves enter your body seamlessly and comfortably.
Discomfort during the procedure should be minimal. If necessary, we can reduce the intensity of the waves during treatment, but this is usually not required. No medications or anesthetics are necessary.
You may experience some aching, soreness, or swelling in the treatment area for a few days after your session. That is normal. Please let us know if you experience more significant pain or bruising.
Does it really work?
EPAT has a very high clinical success rate, with 85-90 percent of patients reporting significant improvement in their symptoms after a full course of 3-5 treatment sessions. When you consider most of these people were previously suffering from chronic conditions that may have lasted months or years with no improvement, that is a remarkable statistic!
Results do vary from person to person, as is the case with all treatments. But for most people it works extremely well.
Is It Safe?
Yes, EPAT is very safe. Although the mechanical process may cause some minor pain and soreness for a few days after the treatment, more serious side effects are extremely rare, and there are few contraindications. Moreover, the treatment does not require the use of any anesthetics or drugs, and is completely non-invasive.
How long do the effects last?
EPAT is a regenerative therapy that’s designed to actually heal damaged tissue rather than hide the symptoms. The goal is complete, permanent reduction in pain and restoration of function. That said, if there are underlying causes of the injury that still need to be addressed, we will have to treat those as well.
Can it be used with other kinds of treatment or therapy?
Yes. In fact, we often include EPAT alongside other traditional forms of therapy, or even other advanced therapies, in order to increase the effectiveness. For example, EPAT has been shown to be a great “companion” therapy for amniotic tissue injections.
EPAT Therapy is one of many different regenerative therapies we offer at Rainier Foot & Ankle Associates. Determining which, if any, of these procedures is best for your situation will depend on a number of factors.
For example, MLS laser therapy is an alternative option that also accelerates the body’s natural healing processes and works on many of the same conditions, such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis. But the mechanics of action is a little different—while laser therapy works by reducing inflammation and “guiding” cells to engage in repair processes, EPAT works by triggering a short-term increase in inflammation to restart healing.
Which of these two treatments (or others) may be better for you may depend on things like the nature and severity of your condition, your lifestyle, or even whether any contraindications are present for one treatment or another (for example, laser can be used over internal fixation hardware, whereas EPAT generally shouldn’t).
The point is that regardless of what’s causing your foot or ankle pain, you can count on Rainier Foot & Ankle to provide a comprehensive array of both traditional and advanced treatment options that are actually customized to fit your unique situation, and get you back to full health and activity as quickly as possible.
To request an appointment, please call our office in Enumclaw, WA anytime at (360) 761-1285, or use our online appointment request form.