Objective: This systematic review and meta-analysis updated the effects of photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) on pain, the Foot Function Index (FFI), and the effects on fascial thickness in adults with acute or chronic plantar fasciitis (PF). Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted in the PubMed (Public/Publisher MEDLINE), EMBASE (Excerpta Medica Database), and CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) databases. Two researchers independently screened titles and abstracts of the retrieved studies for eligibility. A random-effects model was used for this meta-analysis. Subgroup meta-analyses were conducted to evaluate the influence of PBMT in pain and foot function under investigation and the study design on the overall weighted mean effect size. Results: From a total of 3865 studies, 7 randomized controlled trials were selected after final review and 4 were selected for meta-analysis. There was a significant difference between PBMT and control for Visual Analog Scale (Chi2 = 29.30; p < 0.00001) with an I2 value of 90% in favor of PBMT versus the control. The overall effect of PBMT was statistically significant (p < 0.02) with PBMT favoring for thickness of the plantar fascia reduction. FFI between PBMT and control group [Chi2 -83.46, df = 1 (p < 0.00001)]; I2 = 99% in favor of the PBMT. Conclusions: This meta-analysis presents evidence that PBMT is an effective treatment modality to reduce pain and improvement of foot function in patients with chronic PF, however, a broad discrepancy was found in the PBMT dosimetry. The ideal treatment parameters for PF need to be elucidated.
Keywords: foot function; pain; photobiomodulation therapy; plantar fasciitis.