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Heel cushions may improve plantar fasciitis treatment

Elaine Soliven
28 Feb 2017

The use of heel cushions may provide pain relief and improve walking in patients with plantar fasciitis, according to a presentation at the 7th Association of South-East Asian Pain Societies (ASEAPS) Congress 2017 held in Yangon, Myanmar.

Combined with the stretching exercises, pain medications, and ultrasound therapy, the use of heel cushions proved to be an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis, according to researchers from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Institute of Medicine 1 in Yangon, Myanmar.

Researchers gathered data from the outpatient department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Yangon General Hospital in Yangon, Myanmar from September 2013 to October 2014. Forty patients (mean age, 38.45 years) were randomized to heel cushion users (n=20, 75 percent female) vs nonusers (n=20, 70 percent female). [ASEAPS 2017, abstract 22]

Both treatment groups were asked to perform stretching exercises and were provided with pain medications and ultrasound therapy (10 min/session, 5 sessions/week) for 4 weeks. Both groups were followed up twice weekly for another four weeks to identify any recurrence of pain.

At the second follow-up visit, improved mean Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) measurements were noted in both treatment groups, with significantly better results in the heel cushion user group (from 3.15 to 0.9) compared with the nonuser group (from 3.3 to 1.5).

Additionally, pain was significantly reduced during the second week (p=0.027), third week (p=0.017), and fourth week (p=0.021) posttreatment, as well as during the first (p=0.022) and second (p=0.033) follow-up visits.

Ambulatory functional test revealed increased functional ability in heel cushion users (from 19.6 to 9.65 seconds) compared with nonusers (from 20.10 to 12.85 seconds) at the second follow-up visit.

Given the improved pain and inflammation, the findings suggest that heel cushions are an effective adjunct in conservatively managing plantar fasciitis, thus reducing the likelihood of developing progressive plantar pain and improving activities such as walking and running, noted the researchers.

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