Chronic plantar fasciitis is a common cause of foot pain, with conservative treatment providing relief for most patients. However, because of the common occurrence of this pathology, this leaves many patients dissatisfied. The purpose of the present study was to determine the effectiveness of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) to treat chronic plantar fasciitis (PF) in a largely active duty population. A review of 82 patients (115 heels) who had undergone ESWT for chronic PF was performed. Outcome data were obtained by patient telephone interviews. All ESWT was conducted at 24 kV for 2000 shocks. Of the 82 patients (115 heels), 76 (93%; 111 heels) agreed to participate. Their mean age was 42 ± 10 years, with 41 males (54%) and 35 females (46%). The mean follow-up period was 42 ± 22 months. Of the patients, 73.6% were active duty military personnel. The mean preoperative pain score of 7.8 ± 2 had improved to 2.5 ± 2 at the last follow-up visit (p < .0001). Active duty patients reported a mean improvement in pain of 4.8 ± 3 compared with 6.8 ± 3 in non-active duty patients (p = .005). Of the 76 patients, 75 (98%) underwent 1 ESWT session, and 1 (2%) requiring 2 sessions. Overall, 74% of patients rated the outcome of their procedure as either good or excellent, with 87% stating that ESWT was successful. Ten patients (18%) left the military because of continued foot pain, with 76% able to return to running. For patients with chronic PF, these results support the use of ESWT to relieve pain in >85% of patients, with a preponderance for better pain relief in patients who are not active duty military personnel.
Level of Clinical Evidence: 4