New Treatment Eliminates Heel Pain Caused By Plantar Fasciitis

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2008-12-01 23:58

Combining an ultrasound-guided technique with steroid injection is 95 percent effective at relieving the common and painful foot problem called plantar fasciitis, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"There is no widely accepted therapy or standard of care for patients when first-line treatments fail to relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis," said the study's lead author, Luca M. Sconfienza, M.D., from Italy's University of Genoa. "Our new technique is an effective, one-time outpatient procedure."

Plantar fasciitis, the most common cause of heel pain, is an inflammation of the connective tissue called the plantar fascia that runs along the bottom of the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot. The condition accounts for 11 percent to 15 percent of all foot symptoms requiring professional care and affects one million people annually in the U.S.

Conservative treatments, which may take up to a year to be effective, include rest, exercises to stretch the fascia, night splints and arch supports.

When the condition does not respond to conservative treatments, patients may opt for shockwave therapy, in which sound waves are directed at the area of heel pain to stimulate healing. Shockwave therapy is painful, requires multiple treatments and is not always effective.

Complications may include bruising, swelling, pain, numbness or tingling and rupture of the plantar fascia. In the most severe cases of plantar fasciitis, patients may undergo invasive surgery to detach the fascia from the heel bone.

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