December 2, 2008

New treatment for plantar fasciitis

A new technique has been found to be 95 percent effective in easing the pain of plantar fasciitis, University of Genoa researchers say.

Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the connective tissue running along the bottom of the foot known as the fascia.

Dr. Luca Sconfienza and colleagues injected 44 plantar fasciitis patients with a small amount of anesthesia. The anesthetic needle was used to repeatedly puncture the site where the patient felt pain. This technique creates a small amount of local bleeding that spurs healing of the fascia and is known as dry needling. Lastly, using ultrasound guidance to avoid a rupture, steroids were injected around the fascia to help eliminate inflammation.

After the 15-minute, one-time outpatient procedure, symptoms disappeared within three weeks for 42 of the study's 44 patients.

In cases of mild plantar fasciitis , patients should first try noninvasive solutions before any other treatments, Sconfienza said in a statement. But when pain becomes annoying and affects the activities of daily living, dry-needling with steroid injection is a viable option.

Results of Scofienza's study were reported at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America held in Chicago.