Is radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (rESWT), sham-rESWT or a standardised exercise programme in combination with advice plus customised foot orthoses more effective than advice plus customised foot orthoses alone in the treatment of plantar fasciopathy? A double-blind, randomised, sham-controlled trial

Br J Sports Med. 2024 Jun 20:bjsports-2024-108139. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2024-108139. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objectives: To assess whether radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (rESWT), sham-rESWT or a standardised exercise programme in combination with advice plus customised foot orthoses is more effective than advice plus customised foot orthoses alone in alleviating heel pain in patients with plantar fasciopathy.

Methods: 200 patients with plantar fasciopathy were included in a four-arm, parallel-group, sham-controlled, observer-blinded, partly patient-blinded trial. At baseline, before randomisation, all patients received advice plus customised foot orthoses. Patients were randomised to rESWT (n=50), sham-rESWT (n=50), exercise (n=50) or advice plus customised foot orthoses alone (n=50). Patients in the rESWT and sham-rESWT groups received three treatments. The exercise programme comprised two exercises performed three times a week for 12 weeks, including eight supervised sessions with a physiotherapist. Patients allocated to advice plus customised foot orthoses did not receive additional treatment. The primary outcome was change in heel pain during activity in the previous week per Numeric Rating Scale (0-10) from baseline to 6-month follow-up. The outcome was collected at baseline, and 3, 6 and 12 months.

Results: The primary analysis showed no statistically significant between-group differences in mean change in heel pain during activity for rESWT versus advice plus customised foot orthoses (-0.02, 95% CI -1.01 to 0.96), sham-rESWT versus advice plus customised foot orthoses (0.52, 95% CI -0.49 to 1.53) and exercise versus advice plus customised foot orthoses (-0.11, 95% CI -1.11 to 0.89) at 6 months.

Conclusion: In patients with plantar fasciopathy, there was no additional benefit of rESWT, sham-rESWT or a standardised exercise programme over advice plus customised foot orthoses in alleviating heel pain.

Trial registration number: NCT03472989.

Keywords: Exercise Therapy; Foot; Foot Orthoses; Randomized Controlled Trial; Rehabilitation.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03472989