Manual therapy interventions in the treatment of plantar fasciitis: A comparison of three approaches

Health SA. 2019 Sep 25;24:1244. doi: 10.4102/hsag.v24i0.1244. eCollection 2019.


Background: Plantar fasciitis is one of the common causes of heel pain and a common musculoskeletal problem often observed by clinicians. Numerous options are available in treating plantar fasciitis conservatively, but no previous studies have compared combined conservative management protocols.

Aim: The aim of this study was to compare manipulation of the foot and ankle and cross friction massage of the plantar fascia; cross friction massage of the plantar fascia and gastrocsoleus complex stretching; and a combination of the aforementioned protocols in the treatment of plantar fasciitis.

Setting: This study was conducted at the University of Johannesburg, Chiropractic Day Clinic, and included participants that complied with relevant inclusion criteria.

Methods: Forty-five participants between the ages of 18 and 50 years with heel pain for more than 3 months were divided into three groups and received one of the proposed treatment interventions. The data collected were range of motion (ROM) of the ankle (using a goniometer) and pain perception using the McGill Pain Questionnaire and Functional foot index and algometer.

Results: The results of this study indicate that cross friction massage of the plantar fascia and stretching of the gastrocsoleus complex showed the greatest overall improvement in terms of reducing the pain and disability and ankle dorsiflexion ROM, whereas the combination group showed the greatest increase in plantar flexion.

Conclusion: The results demonstrated that all three protocols had a positive effect on the ROM and pain perception to patients with plantar fasciitis.

Keywords: Algometer; Chiropractic; Goniometer; McGill Pain Questionnaire and Foot Functional Index; Plantar Fasciitis.