A new study conducted by researchers at Saarland University Medical Center in Germany focused on patients suffering from chronic bone heel spurs. The study showed that radiation therapy provided relief.
With millions of American suffering from heel pain, commonly often diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, this could be a new form of treatment. Plantar fasciitis is a common problem for athletes – with some dealing with it for years and others never beating it.
Plantar fasciitis (PF) is best described as an inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot running from the heel to the toes. Those with a severe case of PF often experience extreme pain and it often compromises their ability to walk and stand. It is often most problematic in the morning.
The Saarland study looked at 62 patients followed for one year. Twenty-nine received a standard dose ot radiation therapy, and 33 received a low dose. The radiation therapy used was external bean radiation that delivers radiation only at a specific part of the body.
The patients receiving the standard radiation dose found pain relief to be “highly significantly superior” and of the 29 patients receiving this dose, 80% had complete pain relief. The pain relief continued or improved for as long as 48 weeks after their treatment.
Dr. Marcus Niewald, a radiation oncologist at Saarland said that, “Radiation therapy has been used for its anti-inflammatory effect for more than 60 years.” Researchers are, “… extremely encouraged by the results of the study because evidence of improved quality of life for patients in clearly evident with the standard radiation dose.”
The study also found no acute side effect or long-term toxicity from the radiation therapy.
The study was published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology.
If you suffer from chronic plantar fasciitis, ask your podiatrist or doctor to research this study and see if it could be beneficial for you.
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition involving foot pain and tightness, and many plantar fasciitis sufferers seek massage therapy for relief. New research shows using a medial arch support helps manage pain and pain-related disability associated with plantar fasciitis. The medial arch is on the inside of the mid-foot.
The study compared effects of the arch support with supporting the heel and foot using a taping method commonly called “Low-Dye” taping.
Thirty patients with unilateral (one-sided) plantar fasciitis were randomly assigned to the arch-support or tape groups, according to an abstract published on www.pubmed.gov. Both groups were assessed before and after the study for pain and foot function. The study group was made up of 23 men and seven women.
Both groups received nine sessions over three weeks consisting of ultrasound and calf-muscles stretching, the abstract noted. They were instructed to maintain supportive
intervention (arch support or tape) throughout this period.
The pre-post comparison showed reduced pain and improved function in both groups; however, there was “significant” improvement seen in the arch-support group.
“Results indicate that a medial arch support is more convenient for short-term management of pain and disability in patients with plantar fasciitis than taping,” the researchers noted.
Source: “Low-Dye Taping Versus Medial Arch Support in Managing Pain and Pain-Related Disability in Patients With Plantar Fasciitis” was published in Foot & Ankle Specialist. (2010 Dec 1.)
A new study compares two treatment methods for acute plantar fasciitis. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons just issued a press release about the study.
According to a new study from the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS), patients with acute plantar fasciitis who perform manual plantar fasciitis stretching exercises, as opposed to shockwave therapy, had superior results and higher patient satisfaction.
Study details and findings:
A total of 102 patients who had acute plantar fasciitis pain, were randomly assigned to two groups. Acute is defined as any patient that experiences pain for less than six weeks. 54 people performed an eight-week stretching program, while 48 people received repetitive low-energy radial shock-wave therapy once a week for three weeks. Each group was asked to refrain from any other forms of physical therapy.
Patients in the stretching group were told to perform stretching exercises three times a day, for eight weeks. All patients were contacted by phone every two weeks to check on training compliance. After four weeks, the patients were told to slowly return to their previous sport and/or recreational activity. Patients in group two received three sessions of radial shock-wave therapy, three times a week.
Patients were given follow-up evaluations at two, four and fifteen months. At both the two and fourth month evaluation, 65 percent of patients who performed the plantar fascia-specific stretch reported total satisfaction with treatment or satisfaction with treatment with minor reservations. Only 29 percent did so after shockwave therapy.
John Furia, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon in Pennsylvania and one of the study authors added that those who develop plantar fascia pain should begin non-operative treatment promptly. “The earlier you understand how stretching fits in, and the earlier you learn how frequently to perform the simple plantar stretch, the less likely you will require a more invasive treatment method,” stated Dr. Furia. “Shockwave therapy has been shown to be a very effective treatment for patients with chronic plantar fasciitis (pain for more than six to eight weeks), however acute cases are probably best treated with more simple measures,” he added.
How to do the stretch: According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), this stretch should be performed in the seated position. Cross your affected foot over the knee of your other leg. Grasp the toes of your painful foot and bring your ankle up and your toes up. Place your thumb along the plantar fascia and rub it to stretch it. The fascia should feel like a tight band along the bottom of your foot when stretched. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat it 10-20 times for each foot. Dr. Furia and Dr. Judy Baumhauer, orthopaedic surgeon and president-elect of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) recommend that this exercise be performed initially in the morning, before getting out of bed and after any long periods of sitting. If there is a sharp pain in your heel when getting up, a stretch should have been done before standing or walking. Dr. Baumhauer gives her patients the image above as a reference for this exercise. Here is the link to their page with more information.
Dr. Baumhauer, who was not involved in this study, has been counseling patients on the plantar fascia stretch for 15 years. “I am a firm believer in this type of stretch and nearly 80 percent of my patients have shown improvement in just eight weeks of stretching therapy.”
- Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel, and approximately two million patients are treated for plantar fasciitis each year.
- More than 80 percent of patients with plantar fasciitis will improve within 10 months of starting simple treatment methods.
- Dr. Furia suggests that approximately 20 percent of patients with plantar fasciitis develop a chronic condition.
This stretch can be found in the new 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet, due for release early 2011.