Objectives: To compare the effectiveness of a steroid injection (25 mg/ml prednisolone acetate) with a local anaesthetic control in the treatment of heel pain and to determine any advantage for patients' comfort of using a posterior tibial nerve block to anesthetize the heel prior to infiltration.
Methods: A double-blind randomized controlled trial using a 2 x 2 design in a hospital-based rheumatology clinic. Subjects comprised 106 patients with heel pain referred by general practitioners and other rheumatologists working in Camden and Islington Health Authority.
Main outcome measures: heel pain reduction at 1, 3 and 6 months, and patient comfort at the time of injection. All outcomes were measured using a 10 cm visual analogue scale.
Results: A statistically significant reduction in pain was detected at 1 month (P=0.02) in favour of steroid injection, but thereafter no differences could be detected. Patient comfort was not significantly affected by anaesthesia of the heel (P=0.5).
Conclusions: A steroid injection can provide relief from heel pain in the short term. There appears to be no increase in patient comfort from anaesthetizing the heel prior to infiltration.