Repetitive low-energy shock wave application without local anesthesia is more efficient than repetitive low-energy shock wave application with local anesthesia in the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis

J Orthop Res. 2005 Jul;23(4):931-41. doi: 10.1016/j.orthres.2004.09.003.


Background: It remains unclear whether application of local anesthesia (LA) interferes with clinical efficacy of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) for chronic plantar fasciitis.

Aims: To evaluate the effect of local anesthesia on the clinical outcome after repetitive low-energy ESWT for chronic plantar fasciitis.

Methods: Eighty-six patients with chronic plantar fasciitis were randomly assigned to receive either low-energy ESWT without LA, given weekly for three weeks (Group I, n=45; 3 x 2000 pulses, total energy flux density per shock 0.09 mJ/mm2) or identical ESWT with LA (Group II, n=41). Primary outcome measure was: Reduction of pain from baseline to month 3 post-treatment in a pain numeric rating scale [0-10 points] during first steps in the morning, evaluated by an independent blinded observer. Calculations were based on intention-to-treat.

Results: No difference was found between the groups at baseline. At 3 months, the average pain score was 2.2+/-2.0 points for patients of Group I, and 4.1+/-1.5 points for patients of Group II. The mean between-group difference was 1.9 points (95% CI: [1.1-2.7 points]; P<.001). Significantly more patients of Group I achieved 50% reduction of pain compared to Group II (67% vs 29%, P<.001).

Conclusion: ESWT as applied should be done without LA in patients suffering from chronic heel pain. LA applied prior treatment reduced the efficiency of low-energy ESWT.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects*
  • Fasciitis, Plantar / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Pilot Projects
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods*
  • Ultrasonics* / adverse effects


  • Anesthetics, Local