Objective: To determine whether low-intensity laser irradiation, a widespread but controversial physical therapy agent, is an effective treatment of plantar fasciitis.
Design: A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical study.
Setting: A sports medicine clinic.
Subjects: Thirty-two otherwise healthy individuals with plantar fasciitis of more than 1 month's duration.
Intervention: Dummy or active irradiation with a 30 mW .83 microm GaAlAs continuous-wave infrared (IR) diode laser three times a week for 4 weeks.
Measurements: Morning pain, pain with toe walking, tenderness to palpation, windlass test response, medication consumption, and orthotic use were evaluated immediately before the study, as well as at the midpoint and end of treatment. Subjects were also evaluated at a follow-up 1 month after their last treatment.
Results: No significant differences were found between the groups in any of the outcome measures either during treatment or at the 1-month follow-up. Treatment, however, was well tolerated and side effects were minimal.
Conclusions: Low-intensity IR laser therapy appears safe but, at least within the parameters of this study, is not beneficial in the treatment of plantar fasciitis.