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JAMA. 2002 Sep 18;288(11):1364-72.

Ultrasound-guided extracorporeal shock wave therapy for plantar fasciitis: a randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Cabrini Hospital and Cabrini Medical Centre, Malvern, Victoria, Australia 3144.



Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is increasingly used for plantar fasciitis, but limited evidence supports its use.


To determine whether ultrasound-guided ESWT reduces pain and improves function in patients with plantar fasciitis.


Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted between April 1999 and June 2001.


Participants were recruited from the community-based referring physicians (primary care physicians, rheumatologists, orthopedic surgeons, and sports physicians) of a radiology group in Melbourne, Australia.


We screened 178 patients and enrolled 166; 160 completed the 15-week protocol. Entry criteria included age at least 18 years with plantar fasciitis, defined as heel pain maximal over the plantar aspect of the foot of at least 6 weeks' duration, and an ultrasound-confirmed lesion, defined as thickening of the origin of the plantar fascia of at least 4 mm, hypoechogenicity, and alterations in the normal fibrillary pattern.


Patients were randomly assigned to receive either ultrasound-guided ESWT given weekly for 3 weeks to a total dose of at least 1000 mJ/mm(2) (n = 81), or identical placebo to a total dose of 6.0 mJ/mm(2) (n = 85).


Overall, morning, and activity pain, measured on a visual analog scale; Maryland Foot Score; walking ability; Short-Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36) score; and Problem Elicitation Technique score, measured at 6 and 12 weeks after treatment completion.


At 6 and 12 weeks, there were significant improvements in overall pain in both the active group and placebo group (mean [SD] improvement, 18.1 [30.6] and 19.8 [33.7] at 6 weeks [P =.74 for between-group difference], and 26.3 [34.8] and 25.7 [34.9] at 12 weeks [P =.99], respectively). Similar improvements in both groups were also observed for morning and activity pain, walking ability, Maryland Foot Score, Problem Elicitation Technique, and SF-36. There were no statistically significant differences in the degree of improvement between treatment groups for any measured outcomes.


We found no evidence to support a beneficial effect on pain, function, and quality of life of ultrasound-guided ESWT over placebo in patients with ultrasound-proven plantar fasciitis 6 and 12 weeks following treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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