Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a supersaturated concentration of autologous platelets that augments the natural healing response of fascia. Previous studies have shown the superiority of PRP over corticosteroids (CS) for chronic plantar fasciitis. The aim of this study was to compare the pain and functional outcomes of PRP with CS and placebo injections for the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis. We conducted a 3-arm randomized controlled trial of 90 patients: PRP (n = 30 patients), CS (n = 30 patients), and placebo (n = 30 patients). The patients were followed at regular intervals until 18 months postinjection using validated instruments. The mean visual analog scale score showed significant improvement in all groups between baseline and 18-month follow-up (PRP: 8.2 vs 2.1; CS: 8.8 vs 3.6; placebo: 8.1 vs 5.4), with CS showing significantly better improvement than PRP in the short term, whereas longer-term PRP was significantly better than CS. The mean Roles and Maudley score showed significant improvement in all groups between baseline and 18-month follow-up (PRP: 1.7 vs 3.7; CS: 1.2 vs 3.1; placebo: 1.2 vs 2.0), with CS showing significantly better improvement than PRP in the short term, whereas longer-term PRP was significantly better than CS. The mean Short Form 12 score showed significant improvement in all groups between baseline and 18-month follow-up (PRP: 55.4 vs 80.2; CS: 56.2 vs 76.2; placebo: 54.1 vs 62.4). We found that all 3 groups showed significant improvement between baseline and end of the follow-up period with regard to pain, function, and general health. The CS arm showed better improvement in the short term, whereas the PRP arm showed better results in the long term. In contrast to previous studies, we found no significant drop-off effect of CS in the long term, which may be owing to background natural healing process of the disease. In summary, both PRP and CS are safe and effective treatment options for chronic plantar fasciitis, showing superior results to placebo treatment. The longer-term results and less reinjection and/or surgery rate of PRP makes it more attractive as an injection treatment option versus CS injection.
Keywords: chronic heel pain; corticosteroids; placebo; plantar fasciitis; platelet-rich plasma; randomized controlled trial.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.