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The correlation between plantar fascia thickness and symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to determine whether changes in plantar fascia thickness are a reliable gauge of efficacy of treatment protocols for plantar fasciitis.

METHODS: Thirty-nine feet (30 patients) with plantar fasciitis received an ultrasound examination to measure the thickness of the medial band of the plantar fascia. Each patient assessed his or her pain using the visual analogue scale. Following various treatments, a second ultrasound examination was performed and the thickness of the plantar fascia was again measured and subjective pain level assessed.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine feet (74.4%) showed a decrease in plantar fascia thickness and a decrease in pain. One foot (2.6%) experienced an increase in fascia thickness and reported an increase in pain. Four feet (10.3%) had an increase in thickness of the plantar fascia and reported no change in pain level. Three feet had minor increases in fascia thickness but reported a decrease in pain (7.7%). One foot (2.6%) had no change in fascia thickness but a decrease in pain and one foot (2.6%) had a decrease in the plantar fascia but no change in pain level. The average reduction in fascia thickness was 0.82 mm ± 1.04 mm, correlating with an average improvement in pain of 3.64 ± 2.7 (P < 0.005).

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence that changing thickness of the plantar fascia is a valid objective measurement to assess effectiveness of new or existing treatment protocols.

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