Similar Functional Gains Using Radial Versus Combined Shockwave Therapy in Management of Plantar Fasciitis

J Foot Ankle Surg. 2021 Nov-Dec;60(6):1098-1102. doi: 10.1053/j.jfas.2021.04.013. Epub 2021 Apr 14.


Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that causes foot pain. While shockwave therapy has been shown to provide successful results, comparative outcomes from different forms of shockwave therapy have yet to be described for this condition. In this retrospective cohort study, we describe findings from a quality improvement initiative assessing safety and functional outcomes for patients with plantar fasciitis treated with radial shockwave therapy (n = 20) or radial and focused shockwave therapy (combined shockwave, n = 18). Most were runners (n = 31, 81.6%), mean age was 43.3 ± 12.9 years, and average symptom duration 12.1 ± 11.1 months. All patients were prescribed an exercise program focusing on foot intrinsic strengthening. We hypothesized both groups would have improvement in function using the foot and Ankle Ability Measure, with a similar safety profile. Both radial and combined groups received similar number of total treatments (4.9 ± 2.5 and 4.1 ± 2.4, respectively; p = .33). Within group score changes for the Activities of Daily Living and Sports subscales were observed for both the radial (16.5 ± 16.3, p < .001; 31.7 ± 23.1, p < .001) and combined groups (19.8 ± 10.8, p = .001; 26.0 ± 21.5, p = .003). There was no difference in proportion of patients meeting the minimal clinically important difference between radial and combined groups regarding the Activities of Daily Living (14 (70%) vs 14 (77.8%), p = .58) and Sports subscales (17 (85%) vs 12 (75%), p = .45). Collectively, these findings suggest that a majority of patients with chronic plantar fasciitis may achieve functional gains using either form of shockwave therapy.

Keywords: foot and ankle ability measure; functional outcome; plantar fascia; sports medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy*
  • Fasciitis, Plantar* / therapy
  • High-Energy Shock Waves* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome