ExtraCorporeal Shock Wave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition affecting the bottom of the foot. It is a common cause of heel pain and is sometimes called a heel spur. Plantar fasciitis is the correct term to use when there is active inflammation.

Plantar fasciosis is more accurate when there is no inflammation but chronic degeneration instead. Acute plantar fasciitis is defined as inflammation of the origin of the plantar fascia and fascial structures around the area. Plantar fasciitis or fasciosis is usually just on one side. In about 30 per cent of all cases, both feet are affected.

The natural history of this condition is that left alone (untreated), it will eventually go away on its own. Another term for this kind of response is to say that plantar fasciitis is usually self-limiting. That’s why many studies using a placebo (pretend treatment) get good results no matter how it’s treated.

But sometimes, the problem lasts a long time. When it doesn’t go away, doctors say it’s recalcitrant, which means it’s chronic. The painful symptoms limit movement and function, which can reduce quality of life. Finding a way to treat patients with chronic plantar fasciitis is important.

In this study, the use of radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (rESWT) was compared with a placebo treatment in patients with recalcitrant plantar fasciitis. Shock wave therapy is a newer form of nonsurgical treatment. It uses a machine to generate shock wave pulses to the sore area. Radial shock waves apply the energy at a specific point of tenderness and then the force of the vibration spreads out over a larger area. The pattern of vibrational energy released looks like the shape of a megaphone.

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