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Should I pay for ESWT

Posted by Cameron H. on 12/23/03 at 19:20 (140705)

Hi. My name is Cameron and I am in so much pain with my PF. My doctor tells me I'm a perfect candidate for ESWT but my insurance will not cover it. I'm trying to decide if it's worth the money to pay for it on my own. Can anyone offer me advice? Thanks in advance. Cameron

Re: Should I pay for ESWT

BrianG on 12/23/03 at 21:24 (140713)

Hi Cameron,

If you have typical PF, most doctors will tell you that you are a perfect candidate for ESWT. It is a good alternative to surgery right now, as well as a good money maker for the Docs. Can you afford to have the treatment, and not be too disapointed if it fails? Thats the question I'd be asking myself.

Good luck

PS: Is your doctor offering you a back up plan in case your treatment fails. Some are offering a second treatment, others are offering free surgery. Most important - Get it all in Writing !!!!

Re: Should I pay for ESWT

Dr. Zuckerman on 12/23/03 at 21:33 (140714)


What machine is your doctor going to use? How much is he charging?. Is this a complete fee.? Does it include a second treatment?. With ESWT there are none of the serious permenant risks that you have with foot surgery.
If you have tried ample conservative treatment and you are a candidate here is the two questions you need to ask youself.
1. What are my alternatives
2. IF I decide to undergo foot surgery instead of ESWT can I accept the risk of having a foot that is worse off then what it is now for the rest of my life. This is a small risk but it is a risk that you will have to accept.
If you decide that ESWT is right for you does your doctor arrange for a payment plan.
Feel free to ask any questions about ESWT . I have used this technology since 1999

Re: Should I pay for ESWT

Cameron H. on 12/23/03 at 21:44 (140715)

Hi Brian. Thanks for your input. I don't know if I have typical PF of not. It sounds like I do. I've always been told heel spurs. A few years ago I had them just as bad as I do now. I've had every bit of treatment possible (that I know of)...orthopedics for my shoes, injections, steroids, night splints, and I even wore a cast for some time. None of it seemed to work. Then eventually they went away. Now they are back with a vengence. (for about 8 months...and the pain keeps getting worse) The first words that came out of my docs mouth were ESWT which gave me instant hope. But I want to be smart here. He said surgery would keep me off my feet for about a month. And I can't do that. Plus I don't want to. He also said if I cant get the ESWT that he would sent me to a physical therapist to get orthopedics made again...and give me some stretches. And that just seems like a waste of time since none of that worked the first time. The stretches seem to help make me limp less, but that's about it. I can find a way to afford it if I have too. But I haven't done any real research on it either...to know the success rate, etc. Thanks again. It's nice to know there are others out there who can relate....because the people I talk to just don't seem to understand how painful this can be. Have a great night. Cameron

Re: Should I pay for ESWT

Cameron H. on 12/23/03 at 21:51 (140716)

Thanks Dr. Z. I will find out what machine he will use. They told me they would give me a discount if my insurance wont cover it. I believe it was 750 a treatment and they said I would need 3 treatments. But They didn't say if that was a complete fee. Does this seem like a reasonable or accurate price to you? These are very helpful questions for me to ask my doctor. Thank you so much. I feel like the surgery is out of the question for me. I have one more question for now. With the ESWT is my only risk it not working? Or if it doesn't work could I be left in worse condition. Doesn't this surgery have an 80% success rate. (ok, two questions) Hae a good night.

Re: Should I pay for ESWT

BrianG on 12/23/03 at 23:07 (140720)

A month is not a very accurate time frame to be off your foot after surgery. It can be 3 months, 6 months, or more!!! Do you know why you got PF? If you get the treatment, (ESWT or surgery) and keep on doing the things that caused the PF in the first place, you could be setting youself up for failure. People who walk on hard surfaces all day, are especially difficult to heal, by either method. If you have this type of job, you may want to start looking for some aternative work, in the future.

The 3 treatment method, is most likely the Sonocur ESWT machine. It's a low powered machine, which usually has 3 treatments, within a week. It's approved in Canada. In the US, it is not approved by the FDA, but the doctors can use it, off lable, for heels. The Sonocur is approved by the FDA (in the US) for tennis elbow.

Stick around this web site, and read for a while. Go to the 'surgery' forum, to read about the success's and failures. Make a list of questions for your doctor. Don't forget to bring them with you the next time you see him. After reading here for a while, you'll soon know if your doctor knows what he's talking about.

Good luck

PS: Taping your foot, a few times a week can help, as well as iceing it a couple times a day. Your Doc can show you how to tape, or you can read 'scott's book' at this web site. He explains it quite well. Use the 'Search' feature at the top of each page, it's a great asset!

PPS: Pain, we know about your pain, and it can become life altering.....

Re: Should I pay for ESWT

Dr. Zuckerman on 12/23/03 at 23:23 (140721)

When your doctor talks about three treatments he is talking about low energy ESWT with the sonocur machine. This isn't FDA approved for plantar fasciitis in the USA. So three treatments times $750 equals $2250. That is high for low energy ESWT. It is usually $750 for all three treatments.
We charge $2500 for the dornier Epos which is a single treatment protocol. This is the only FDA approved high energy ESWT machine with ultrasound. The only risk with ESWT is no resolution of pain. Heel spur has a sucess rate of anywhere from 50-85% but that isn't what important with heel spur surgery you can have nerve damage and a foot that is Worse off with permenant pain for your entire life.
According to the FDA one year follow up study the dornier epos is the most sucessful ESWT machine. The results were 94% success