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Prospective Randomized Comparison of the Effectiveness of Radiation Therapy and Local Steroid Injection for the Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to conduct a randomized trial of radiation therapy for plantar fasciitis and to compare radiation therapy with local steroid injections.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Between March 2013 and April 2014, 128 patients with plantar fasciitis were randomized to receive radiation therapy (total dose of 6.0 Gy applied in 6 fractions of 1.0 Gy three times a week) or local corticosteroid injections a 1 ml injection of 40 mg methylprednisolone and 0.5 ml 1% lidocaine under the guidance of palpation. The results were measured using a visual analog scale, a modified von Pannewitz scale, and a 5-level function score. The fundamental phase of the study was 3 months, with a follow-up period of up to 6 months.

RESULTS: The median follow-up period for all patients was 12.5 months (range, 6.5-18.6 months). For the radiation therapy patients, the median follow-up period was 13 months (range, 6.5-18.5 months), whereas in the palpation-guided (PG) steroid injection arm, it was 12.1 months (range, 6.5-18.6 months). After 3 months, results in the radiation therapy arm were significantly superior to those in the PG steroid injection arm (visual analog scale, P<.001; modified von Pannewitz scale, P<.001; 5-level function score, P<.001). Requirements for a second treatment did not significantly differ between the 2 groups, but the time interval for the second treatment was significantly shorter in the PG steroid injection group (P=.045).

CONCLUSION: This study confirms the superior analgesic effect of radiation therapy compared to mean PG steroid injection on plantar fasciitis for at least 6 months after treatment.

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