Background:

We compared the long-term clinical and ultrasonographic effects of radial extracorporeal shockwave therapy (rESWT) versus ultrasound-guided corticosteroid injection treatment in patients with plantar fasciitis unresponsive to conservative therapy.

Methods:

Seventy-two patients with unilateral plantar fasciitis were randomized to receive either rESWT (three times once per week) (n = 36) or corticosteroid treatment (a single 1-mL dose of betamethasone sodium plus 0.5 mL of prilocaine under ultrasound guidance by injection into the plantar fascia) (n = 36). The primary outcome measures were visual analog scale (VAS) and Foot Function Index (FFI) scores. Secondary outcome measures included the heel tenderness index (HTI) score and plantar fascia thickness (PFT) as obtained by ultrasound examination. All of the assessments were performed at baseline and 1, 3, and 6 months after treatment.

Results:

Significant improvements were observed in the rESWT group in VAS, HTI, and FFI scores and PFT at the end of treatment and were maintained during follow-up. Posttreatment improvements in VAS, HTI, and FFI scores and PFT were also seen in the corticosteroid group but were not maintained for VAS and FFI scores after the completion of therapy and were lost at 1 and 6 months, respectively. No serious treatment-related complications occurred.

Conclusions:

Both rESWT and corticosteroid injection therapy are effective modalities for treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis. However, rESWT seems to be superior to corticosteroid injection therapy due to its longer duration of action.

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