Ultrasonographic evaluation at 6-month follow-up of plantar fasciitis after extracorporeal shock wave therapy

Dietrich S Hammer, Frank Adam, Andreas Kreutz, Stefan Rupp, Dieter Kohn, Romain Seil
Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery 2005, 125 (1): 6-9

INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) on the ultrasonographic appearance of chronically painful, proximal plantar fasciitis.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-two patients with a unilateral proximal plantar fasciitis were prospectively enrolled after unsuccessful conservative treatment lasting 6 months. The contralateral plantar fascia was used as the control. ESWT (3x3000 shock waves/session of 0.2 mJ/mm2) was performed at weekly intervals. The thickness of the plantar fascia was measured ultrasonographically about 2 cm distal of the medial calcaneal tuberosity. Pain estimation on a visual analogue scale (VAS) and the comfortable walking time were recorded. No local anaesthesia was applied. Follow-up was done at 6, 12 and 24 weeks.

RESULTS: Before ESWT, the plantar fasciitis side was ultrasonographically significantly thicker than the control side (p<0.05), whereas 6 months after ESWT, the thickness of the fascia was no longer significantly different. The decrease in thickness of the plantar fasciitis side was significant (p<0.05). Pain during activities of daily living decreased by 79% according to the VAS, and the comfortable walking time increased, both significantly (p<0.01). In patients with little pain (VAS<30), the thickness of the plantar fasciitis side was significantly less (p<0.01) compared with patients who still suffered more pain (VAS>30).

CONCLUSION: After ESWT, the thickness of the plantar fascia in patients with plantar fasciitis decreased, pain and walking time improved (all significantly).

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