Extracorporeal shock wave therapy in patients with plantar fasciitis. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial with ultrasonographic and subjective outcome assessments

J Res Med Sci. 2012 Sep;17(9):834-8.


Background and aim: Results of previous studies have been conflicting on the efficacy of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) in the treatment of plantar fasciitis. We evaluated the effects of ESWT on plantar fasciitis in terms of ultrasonographic and subjective evaluations.

Materials and methods: In this randomized placebo-controlled trial, patients with plantar fasciitis were assigned to receive ESWT (4000 shock waves/session of 0.2 mJ/mm(2)) in 3 sessions at weekly intervals) or sham therapy (n = 20 in each group). Outcomes were documented by the ultrasonographic appearance of the aponeurosis and by patients' pain scores, performed at baseline and 12 weeks after completion of the therapy.

Results: The two groups were similar in baseline characteristics. Over the study period, plantar fascia thickness significantly reduced in the ESWT group (4.1 ± 1.3 to 3.6 ± 1.2 mm, P < 0.001), but slightly increased in the sham group (4.1 ± 0.8 to 4.5 ± 0.9 mm, P = 0.03). Both groups showed significant pain improvement over the course of the study (P < 0.001), though pain scores were significantly more reduced in the ESWT than the sham group (-4.2 ± 2.9 vs. -2.7 ± 1.8, P = 0.049).

Conclusions: Extracorporeal shock wave therapy contributes to healing and pain reduction in plantar fasciitis and ultrasound imaging is able to depict the morphologic changes related to plantar fasciitis as a result of this therapy.

Keywords: Extracorporeal shock wave therapy; plantar fasciitis; ultrasound.