Low-energy extracorporeal shock wave therapy for painful heel: a prospective controlled single-blind study

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Abstract

The aim of this prospective single-blind pilot study was to explore the pain-alleviating effect of low-energy extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) in painful heel associated with inferior calcaneal spurs. Thirty patients who suffered from persistent symptoms for more than 12 months qualified for low-energy ESWT and were assigned at random to two groups, real or simulated ESWT. Before beginning the treatment, any other therapy was stopped for a period of 6 weeks. The shock waves were applied by an experimental device allowing exact localization through an integrated fluoroscopy unit. Patients were treated three times at weekly intervals. Each time 1000 impulses of 0.06 mJ/mm2 were given around the heel spur. Follow-ups were done after 3, 6, 12 and 24 weeks. Patients of the placebo group who did not improve at the 6-week follow-up were then offered ESWT therapy and were checked at 3, 6, 12 and 24 weeks after the last treatment. Whereas we noticed no significant differences between the groups before ESWT, there was a significant alleviation of pain and improvement of function at all follow-ups in the treatment group.