Ultrasound Guidance Does Not Improve the Results of Shock Wave for Plantar Fasciitis or Calcific Achilles Tendinopathy: A Randomized Control Trial

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Abstract

Objective:

To establish whether the use of ultrasound to direct shock waves to the area of greater calcification in calcaneal enthesopathies was more effective than the common procedure of directing shock waves to the point where the patient has the most tenderness.

Design:

Two-armed nonblinded randomized control trial with allocation concealment.

Setting:

The Sports Clinic at Sydney University.

Patients:

Participants 18 years or older with symptomatic plantar fasciitis (PF) (with heel spur) or calcific Achilles tendinopathy (CAT). Seventy-four of 82 cases completed treatment protocol and 6-month follow-up.

Interventions:

Patients were randomized to receive either ultrasound-guided (UG) or patient-guided (PG) shock wave at weekly intervals over 3 to 5 weeks.

Main Outcome Measures:

Reduced pain on visual analog scale (VAS) and improved functional score on Maryland Foot Score (MFS) (for PF) or Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment-Achilles (VISA-A) (for CAT). Follow-up was at 6 weeks and 3 and 6 months.

Results:

Comparative 6-month improvements in MFS for the 47 PF cases were PG +20/100 and UG +14/100 (P = 0.20). Comparative 6-month improvement in VISA-A score for the 27 CAT cases were PG +35/100 and UG +27/100 (P = 0.37). Comparative (combined PF and CAT) 6-month improvement in VAS pain scores for all 38 PG cases were +38/100 with +37/100 for all 36 UG shock wave cases.

Conclusions:

Although both treatment groups had good clinical outcomes in this study, results for the 2 study groups were almost identical.

Clinical Relevance:

This study shows that there is no major advantage in the addition of ultrasound for guiding shock waves when treating calcaneal enthesopathies (PF and CAT).

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