Background: The response of chronic plantar fasciitis to any treatment is unpredictable. Autologous blood might provide cellular and humoral mediators to induce healing in areas of degeneration, the underlying pathology in plantar fasciitis. This study compared the efficacy of intralesional autologous blood with corticosteroid injection for plantar fasciitis present for more than 6 weeks.
Methods: A prospective, randomized, controlled, observer-blinded study was done over a period of 6 months. Sixty-four patients were randomly allocated to either the autologous blood or corticosteroid treatment group. All patients were assessed for the worst pain daily on visual analogue scale (VAS) and tenderness threshold (TT) at the plantar fascia origin using a pressure algometer before treatment, and at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after treatment. A p value of 0.05 was considered significant.
Results: Data were complete for 61 patients. The reduction in VAS and increase in TT for both groups was significant over time (p < 0.0001). At 6 weeks and 3 months, the corticosteroid group had significantly lower VAS than the autologous blood group (p < 0.011 and p < 0.005, respectively), but the difference was not significant at 6 months. The corticosteroid group had significantly higher TT than the autologous blood group at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months (p < 0.003, p < 0.003, p < 0.008, respectively). Although the trends were different, repeated-measures F test of both VAS and TT showed no significant difference in improvement between the groups over time.
Conclusions: Intralesional autologous blood injection is efficacious in lowering pain and tenderness in chronic plantar fasciitis, but corticosteroid is more superior in terms of speed and probably extent of improvement.