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Shock-wave therapy improved outcome with plantar fasciitis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials


Background: Shock-wave therapy (SWT) has been widely applied and proven to be an effective treatment in ameliorating symptoms of plantar fasciitis (PF). Ultrasound therapy (UT) is another common treatment of PF, and several researches have documented its advantages when compared to corticosteroid injection. Despite this, few studies have focused on comparing the use of SWT and UT in the treatment of PF. The purpose of our meta-analysis is to evaluate whether SWT is better than UT in managing PF, both in terms of ameliorating pain and improving functionality.

Methods: A systematic search of the literature was conducted to identify relevant articles that were published in Pubmed, Medline, Embase, the Cochrane Library, SpringerLink, Clinical Trials.gov and OVID from the databases’ inception to October 2018. All studies comparing the efficacy of SWT and UT in terms of pain levels and functionality improvement were included. Data on the two primary outcomes were collected and analyzed using the Review Manager 5.3.

Results: Five studies were included in the current meta-analysis. A significant difference in VAS score (MD = – 13.14, Cl – 14.07 to – 12.75 P < 0.00001, I2 = 100%) was noted between the SWT group and the UT group. No significant difference was seen in the AOFAS (MD = 3.19, Cl – 1.72 to 8.10 P = 0.20, I2 = 100%); FFI or PFPS score was not found significant difference either (SMD = – 1.17, Cl – 4.45 to 2.10 P = 0.48, I2 = 96%).

Conclusions: The results from this meta-analysis highlight the effectiveness of both SWT and UT in the treatment of PF. Although inter-group differences were not significant, the VAS score was better improved in the SWT group, suggesting that SWT may be a superior alternative for the treatment of PF.