What's Best For Plantar Fasciitis?
A recent study from McGill University in Canada looked at treatments for plantar fasciitis. The authors compared three groups of patients with pain from plantar fasciitis; each group had a different treatment.
- One group underwent extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ECST) with orthotics and a home exercise program
- One group had a low-level laser (LLLT) with orthotics and a home exercise program
- The last group received only orthotics and a home exercise program
- The ECST group had to undergo shockwave treatment weekly for three weeks
- The LLLT group had to have treatment three times a week for ten sessions
- The last group did not have to go to a clinic for treatment
However, the LLLT group did the best in this study. LLLT and ECST have been recommended to increase cell activation and to stimulate healing. In this particular study, there was no additive effect of going to the clinic for ECST as opposed to simply wearing the orthotics and doing the exercises. However, the LLLT group did have an additive effect. That is, the LLLT therapy group had the most reduction in pain in this study.
The issues with both ECST and LLLT are that neither are covered by insurance and require multiple visits. Also, shock wave therapy is known to be painful. It is up to you to decide if such treatments are worth it for a modest improvement in pain control over conventional therapy, exercise, and insoles.
Looking for ways to relieve your pain at home? Read our blog, 5 Ways to Treat Heel Pain Yourself, for our five best tips on relieving your heel pain at home.
Cinar EE, Saxena S, Uygur F. Combination therapy versus exercise and orthotic support in the management of pain in plantar fasciitis: A randomized controlled trial. FAI. 2018; 39(4): 406-414
Dr. Meredith Warner is the creator of Well Theory and The Healing Sole. She is a board-certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Air Force Veteran.
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