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The correlation between plantar fascia thickness and symptoms of plantar fasciitis

PainSci » bibliography » Mahowald et al 2011
Tags: treatment, plantar fasciitis, devices, foot, leg, limbs, pain problems, overuse injury, injury, tendinosis

Two articles on PainSci cite Mahowald 2011: 1. Complete Guide to Plantar Fasciitis

PainSci commentary on Mahowald 2011: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

In 39 feet, both increasing and decreasing pain correlated well with changes in plantar fascia thickness, assessed with ultrasonography. The authors conclude that their study “provides evidence that changing thickness of the plantar fascia is a valid objective.”

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to determine whether changes in plantar fascia thickness are a reliable gauge of efficacy of treatment protocols for plantar fasciitis.

METHODS: Thirty-nine feet (30 patients) with plantar fasciitis received an ultrasound examination to measure the thickness of the medial band of the plantar fascia. Each patient assessed his or her pain using the visual analogue scale. Following various treatments, a second ultrasound examination was performed and the thickness of the plantar fascia was again measured and subjective pain level assessed.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine feet (74.4%) showed a decrease in plantar fascia thickness and a decrease in pain. One foot (2.6%) experienced an increase in fascia thickness and reported an increase in pain. Four feet (10.3%) had an increase in thickness of the plantar fascia and reported no change in pain level. Three feet had minor increases in fascia thickness but reported a decrease in pain (7.7%). One foot (2.6%) had no change in fascia thickness but a decrease in pain and one foot (2.6%) had a decrease in the plantar fascia but no change in pain level. The average reduction in fascia thickness was 0.82 mm ± 1.04 mm, correlating with an average improvement in pain of 3.64 ± 2.7 (P < 0.005).

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence that changing thickness of the plantar fascia is a valid objective measurement to assess effectiveness of new or existing treatment protocols.

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