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A step ahead in plantar fasciitis treatment

December 1, 2008 |  5:24 pm

Plantar fasciitis pain can be excruciating and sometimes lasts for months. It happens when the plantar fascia, a ligament that runs from the ball to the heel of the foot, becomes overstretched, possibly tearing. The result is pain usually in the heel of the foot, but sometimes also along the arch. It’s a fairly common ailment that’s typically treated by icing the area, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, wearing an orthotic, or resting the foot.

Feet1But treatments can take months to work. A recent study, however, suggests that a new treatment involving steroid injections may show promise in offering people quick relief.

The study involved 44 people with plantar fasciitis who had not responded to prior medical treatment. Each was injected with a local anesthetic, followed by a dry needling technique, in which a series of punctures are made to induce a small amount of bleeding, which helps heal the ligament. A small amount of steroid is then injected around the area, using ultrasound as a guide.

Results were good: 39 people reported that their symptoms were gone in two to three weeks after treatment. Three had worsened symptoms in the first few days after treatment, followed by reduced pain and then no symptoms after about three weeks. Two people had no significant changes. The use of an orthotic soft-arch support was suggested to all participants after treatment.

The research, done at the University of Genoa in Italy, was presented this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held in Chicago.

Photo credit: Anne Cusack / L.A. Times