The efficacy of a pneumatic compression device in the treatment of plantar fasciitis

J Appl Biomech. 2005 Nov;21(4):404-13. doi: 10.1123/jab.21.4.404.


Plantar fasciitis is a common foot disorder that affects more than two million Americans each year. Conservative management of plantar fasciitis is the first line of treatment by the medical specialist who frequently encounters this common foot complaint. In this study, 50 patients with plantar fasciitis of 4 weeks duration but less than 12 weeks were randomized into two groups. One group of 25 patients used the AirHeel (Aircast, Inc.) and the second group of 25 used the 1st Step prefabricated foot insert (Wrymark, Inc). Standardized weight-bearing radiographs were obtained in order to categorize the foot type: normal arch, pes planus, or pes cavus. Patients were initially evaluated and at 12 weeks they returned for a subsequent visit. The contact area of the foot with the AirHeel and 1st Step insert were similar, an increase of 27% and 26%, respectively, over the contact area barefoot. There was a noted difference in force reduction with the two devices. The AirHeel reduced the midstance force by 20.19%, as compared to the 1st Step insert which showed a 1.03% increase in midstance force. Patients with a higher initial pain score seemed to respond better initially to the AirHeel (p = 0.015) than the 1st Step insert (p = 0.035). This study demonstrates the benefits of offloading the foot at midstance with two devices to relieve the discomfort associated with plantar fasciitis. The Aircast AirHeel is a new modality for dynamic, functional treatment of proximal plantar fasciitis.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pressure*
  • Fasciitis, Plantar / physiopathology
  • Fasciitis, Plantar / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthotic Devices*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking