A preliminary study presented last week at the annual meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology reports that an ultrasound technique is showing early promise as a quick and minimally-invasive treatment for plantar fasciitis. The authors describe the new ultrasound therapy as an entirely "novel approach" that uses ultrasonic energy to cut and remove damaged, pain-generating tissue while sparing healthy foot tissue. The researchers report an average of 90% improvement in study subjects’ foot disability assessments at 2 weeks after treatment, compared with their pretreatment status. These improvements appeared to persist for at least 6 months out, with no notable complications.
The research team tested the procedure on 65 patients who sought care at an interventional radiology clinic in 2013 and 2014. All had chronic plantar fasciitis, and all had failed to respond to standard treatments. During the ultrasound therapy, doctors guided a hollow needle tip into an area of affected tissue by means of ultrasound guidance. Once in position, the tip targeted a combination of high frequency/low amplitude sound to the damaged foot region. That broke up the pain-generating tissue, which was then extracted out of the foot. In total, average treatment time was about a minute and a half, and sedation was not used.
Read a news summary, with link to further information on the findings here.