Plantar fasciitis treated with local steroid injection: comparison between sonographic and palpation guidance

Wen-Chung Tsai, Chih-Chin Hsu, Carl P C Chen, Max J L Chen, Tung-Yang Yu, Ying-Jen Chen
Journal of Clinical Ultrasound: JCU 2006, 34 (1): 12-6

PURPOSE: To compare the effectiveness of sonographically guided and palpation-guided steroid injection for the treatment of proximal plantar fasciitis.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Twenty-five consecutive patients with unilateral proximal plantar fasciitis were recruited and randomly divided into a sonographically guided group (n = 12) and palpation-guided group (n = 13). Proximal plantar fascia was assessed with a 5- to 12-MHz linear-array transducer. Pain intensity was quantified using a "tenderness threshold" (TT) and a visual analog scale (VAS). Injection of 7 mg (1 ml) of betamethasone and 0.5 ml of 1% lidocaine into the inflamed proximal plantar fascia was performed under the guidance of sonography or palpation. Patients were evaluated clinically and sonographically before injection and at 2 weeks, 2 months, and 1 year after injection. VAS- and TT-measured pain intensity, thickness, and echogenicity of the proximal plantar fascia, as well as the recurrence of heel pain, were assessed.

RESULTS: Both VAS- and TT-measured levels of pain improved significantly after steroid injection in both groups (p < 0.001). Also, the thickness decreased significantly after injection (p < 0.01 in the palpation-guided group; p < 0.001 in the sonographically guided group). The number of patients with hypoechogenicity at the proximal plantar fascia decreased after steroid injection in both groups (p < 0.01 for both groups). The recurrence rate of plantar fasciitis in patients of the palpation-guided group (6/13) was significantly higher than that of the sonographically guided group (1/12) (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Steroid injection can be an effective way to treat plantar fasciitis, and injection under sonographic guidance is associated with lower recurrence of heel pain.

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