Objectives: We evaluated the effectiveness and results of night splint applications for the treatment of plantar fasciitis.
Methods: The study included 44 patients (53 feet) with plantar fasciitis. The mean symptom duration was 7.2+/-5.9 weeks (range 1 to 24 weeks). Calcaneal spurs were detected in 12 feet. All the patients received classic conservative treatment and all were recommended to use a night splint that kept the ankle in 5-degree of dorsiflexion for eight weeks. Twenty-five patients (14 females, 11 males; 31 feet) did not accept to use a night splint, whereas 19 patients (12 females, 7 males; 22 feet) did. Evaluations were made with the AOFAS ankle-hindfoot rating scale and a visual analog scale (VAS) before and after two months of treatment. The mean follow-up periods were 33.8 months (range 12 to 54 months) and 32.7 months (range 13 to 53 months) for those who completed treatment with and without the use of a night splint, respectively.
Results: Although there were no significant differences between the two groups with regard to the initial AOFAS and VAS scores, patients using a night splint exhibited significantly higher improvements in both scores at the end of the second month (p=0.01 and p=0.001, respectively). Heel pain recurred in three feet (13.6%) and in nine feet (29%) with and without night splint applications, respectively. Overall, the presence of a calcaneal spur, bilateral involvement, and body mass index were not correlated with patient satisfaction and recurrences. There was no correlation between the presence of a calcaneal spur and body mass index. However, symptom duration till treatment showed a significant correlation with recurrences (r=0.326, p=0.031).
Conclusion: Patients without previous treatments for plantar fasciitis obtain significant relief of heel pain in the short term with the use of a night splint incorporated into conservative methods; however, this application does not have a significant effect on prevention of recurrences after a two-year follow-up.