Objectives. Plantar fasciitis is a self-limiting condition, but can be painful and disabling. Among the different treatments which exist, corticosteroid injections are effective and popular. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is another treatment modality used for resistant conditions. In this study, the authors evaluated the efficacy of radial ESWT versus corticosteroid injections in the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis.
Design. Randomized clinical trial.
Setting. Physical medicine and rehabilitation research center in a university hospital.
Subjects. Forty patients with plantar fasciitis who did not respond to conservative treatment.
Methods. Patients were allocated to radial ESWT with 2000 shock waves/session of 0.2 mJ/mm2 (n = 20) or local methylprednisolone injections (n = 20). Pain in the morning and during the day based on a visual analog scale (VAS), functional abilities using the foot function index (FFI), and satisfaction were evaluated before treatment and at 4 and 8 weeks after treatment.
Results. Patients (average age: 42.1± 8.20) received five sessions of ESWT or single steroid injection. Changes in the VAS in morning and during the day and the FFI throughout the study period were significant in both groups (P < 0.001). ESWT group had a higher reduction in VAS in morning and better function in FFI, but these changes were insignificant statistically [FFI decreased to 19.65 ± 21.26 points (67.4% improvement) in ESWT vs 31.50 ± 20.53 points (47.7%) in injection group at week 8, P = 0.072)]. Good or excellent results in the opinions of patients were achieved in 55% of ESWT and 30% of corticosteroid injection groups (P = 0.11).
Conclusion. Both interventions caused improvement in pain and functional ability 2 months after treatment. Although inter-group differences were not significant, the FFI was improved more with ESWT and patients were more satisfied with ESWT, thus shockwave therapy seems a safe alternative for management of chronic plantar fasciitis.