A comparison of the effectiveness of radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy and ultrasound therapy in the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis: a randomized controlled trial

Nipaporn Konjen, Tapakorn Napnark, Siriporn Janchai
Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand 2015, 98 Suppl 1: S49-56

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness ofradial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (rSWET) and ultrasound therapy (US) in the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis.

STUDY DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial.

SETTING: Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.

MATERIAL AND METHOD: Thirty patients who were diagnosed with plantar fasciitis for at least 3 months and who had not responded to other forms of conservative treatment were recruited for this study. They were randomly divided into two groups of 15 patients. The rESWT group was treated with 1 session per week and the US group with 3 sessions per week, with both groups undergoing a total of 6 consecutive weeks of treatment. Visual analog scale (VAS) assessments were performed before and after treatment at 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 weeks. The mobility subscale of the plantar fasciitis pain and disability scale (PFPS) was measured before and after treatment. Patient satisfaction was evaluated at the conclusion of the 6-week treatment protocol.

RESULTS: VAS pain intensity scores were significantly decreased in both groups (p < 0.001), when measured after treatment at 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 weeks. The VAS pain scores for the rESWT group dropped significantly more than those of the US group (p < 0.001). At the end of treatment, the PFPS mobility subscale scores in both groups were significantly decreased (p < 0.001). Similar to the VAS pain score outcome, the PFPS mobility subscale score for the rESWT group decreased significantly more than that of the US group (p < 0.001). Patient satisfaction was significantly higher in the rESWT group, relative to the US group (p = 0.025).

CONCLUSION: In chronic plantar fasciitis treatment, both rESWT and US were found to be effective in reducing pain and increasing mobility; however, statistical analysis showed that rESWT is significantly more effective than US.

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