Comparison of dry needling and steroid injection in the treatment of plantar fasciitis: a single-blind randomized clinical trial

Int Orthop. 2018 Jan;42(1):109-116. doi: 10.1007/s00264-017-3681-1. Epub 2017 Nov 8.


Introduction: Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain. Considering different interventions which are applied for patients with plantar fasciitis, dry needling is proposed as a new modality of treatment recently. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of dry needling versus steroid injection for plantar fasciitis.

Methods: Sixty-six patients were recruited to this single-blind clinical trial study. Participants were randomly allocated to receive 1 ml (40 mg) of Depo-Medrol (methylprednisolone acetate) or dry needling. They were followed up for 12 months and monitored for total perception of pain using the visual analogue scale (VAS), with data obtained in baseline and at three weeks, six weeks, three months, six months and one year after treatment.

Results: Mean VAS score before treatment was 6.96 ± 0.87 for the steroid group and 6.41 ± 0.83 for the dry-needling group (P value = 0.54). Steroid injection reduced VAS scores rapidly until three weeks after treatment compared with dry needling (0.32 ± 0.71 and 3.47 ± 1.32, respectively; P value < 0.001). However, patients who were underwent dry needling reported lower VAS scores at the end of follow-up compared with the steroid group (0.69 ± 0.93 and 2.09 ± 1.58, respectively; P value = 0.004). Over the long term, 82.3% and 17.6% of changes in pain were contributed to time since treatment and treatment method, respectively (P values < 0.001).

Conclusions: Steroid injection can palliate plantar heel pain rapidly but dry needling can provide more satisfactory results for patients with plantar fasciitis in the long term.

Keywords: Dry needling; Plantar fasciitis; Plantar heel pain; Steroid injection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Analgesia / methods*
  • Adult
  • Fasciitis, Plantar / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Methylprednisolone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate
  • Methylprednisolone