Research finds several approaches to be effective or at least partially effective in overcoming this painful condition. Interestingly, until very recently, no one had ever compared these treatments, in isolation, against each other to see which is most effective. So, Ravi Gupta (Department of Orthopaedics, Government Medical College Hospital, Chandigarh) and colleagues set out to do just that.
Researchers performed a double blind, randomized controlled study of 140 patients who were middle-aged and had plantar fasciitis for an average of six to seven months, and some experienced it for up to four years. The patients were divided into four groups of 35 patients each. Each group received one treatment of either analgesics, hot water fomentation and silicon heel pads, plantar fascia stretching or calf stretching. All the groups showed significant improvements in pain and disability at one-year follow-up. The analgesics group proved to be the least effective form of treatment in pain reduction. The group who participated in plantar fascia stretching resulted in the most significant improvement, followed by treatment with heat and silicone heel pad and calf stretching exercises.
Plantar fascia stretching stood out as the most effective treatment for reducing disability.