Background:

We compared diagnostic ultrasound images of the plantar fascia with available patient histories for symptomatic patients previously diagnosed as having plantar fasciitis. Plantar fascia thickness and depth, the prevalence of perifascial hypoechoic lesions, and injury timelines in patients were reviewed.

Methods:

Images and histories for 126 symptomatic patients were collected from a patient database. We documented plantar fascia depth and thickness and the visualization of hypoechoic perifascial lesions. After image analysis, the obtained plantar fascia thickness measurements were compared with various patient attributes for possible relationships, including age, weight, and body mass index. In addition, plantar fascia thickness measurements were separated based on injury timeline as well as symptomatic/asymptomatic foot for patients with unilateral conditions to check for significant differences between subgroups. These were, in turn, compared with a control group of 71 individuals with no heel pain or diagnosis of plantar fasciitis.

Results:

Overall, mean ± SD symptomatic thickness (n = 148) was 6.53 ± 1.56 mm. Mean ± SD symptomatic depth (n = 136) was 13.36 ± 2.14 mm. For the control group, mean ± SD thickness was 3.20 ± 0.66 mm and depth was 10.30 ± 2.00 mm. Comparison of thickness based on injury timeline showed two significant differences: acute injuries (≤3 months) are significantly thicker than chronic injuries (>3 months), and only acute symptomatic thicknesses are significantly different from their asymptomatic thickness counterparts. Age, weight, and body mass index did not show significant correlations to thickness. Analysis of ultrasound images showed that 93% of symptomatic feet had hypoechoic lesions.

Conclusions:

Injury timeline and the presence of hypoechoic lesions may play important roles in patient discomfort, diagnosis, and treatment of plantar fasciitis.

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