Ultrasound scanning for recalcitrant plantar fasciopathy. Basis of a new classification
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The treatment of recalcitrant plantar fasciopathy is often empirical. Imaging is usually in the form of radiographs, if undertaken at all. The aim of this study is to characterise the disease pattern in recalcitrant cases of plantar fasciopathy. This allows classification of the pathology, which in turn allows meaningful evaluation of current and future treatments.
Materials and methods
One hundred and twenty-five consecutive feet with symptoms of ‘plantar fasciitis’ lasting longer than 6 months (all of which had failed to improve with a stepwise conservative management protocol) had confirmed plantar fasciopathy on ultrasound scanning. The disease characteristics were evaluated based on the scan findings.
Of the patients evaluated, 66 % had typical insertional disease. The remaining 34 % had atypical distal fascia disease; 22 % had mixed insertional and distal disease, and 12 % had pure distal disease. Patients with pure distal disease were found to have either distal thickening or discrete fibromata.
In this cohort of recalcitrant cases, ultrasound scans detected a high proportion of atypical non-insertional plantar fascia disease. This would not be detected without imaging studies, and therefore we recommend the use of ultrasound scanning in cases of recalcitrant plantar heel pain that have failed proper first-line management, in order to confirm the clinical diagnosis and to classify the disease as either insertional or non-insertional plantar fasciopathy (or mixed disease). Only in this way can treatments for this group of patients be systematically evaluated against different disease patterns to determine their effectiveness.
KeywordsHeel Plantar fasciitis Chronic plantar fasciitis Fibromatosis Ultrasonography
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