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New Twist on Treatment of Foot Pain
Date:12/1/2008

'Dry-needling,' steroids effective against plantar fasciitis, researchers say

MONDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Italian researchers say they've developed a fast, effective, non-invasive treatment for the painful foot condition known as plantar fasciitis.

Using a combination of "dry-needling" and steroid injections guided by ultrasound, the researchers say their approach achieved a 95 percent success rate in tackling a condition that afflicts about one million Americans every year and accounts for up to 15 percent of all foot problems.

"On a long-term basis, patients recover almost completely from their fasciitis" following the procedure, said study lead author Dr. Luca M. Sconfienza, from the University of Genoa department of experimental medicine. "Overall, the ultrasound guidance allows performing the procedure in total safety."

Sconfienza was to present the findings Monday at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting, in Chicago.

Plantar fasciitis produces pain caused by stress placed on the bottom of the foot, which occurs when the plantar fascia -- a band of connective tissue running from the heel to the ball -- becomes inflamed. It can result from aerobic injury or even improper shoe support, and is the most common muscular-skeletal problem that foot doctors face in the United States, according to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine.

Non-surgical treatment is often effective, involving a combination of anti-inflammatory medication; foot rest; switching to shoes with improved arch support and orthotics; and physical therapy, according to the academy.

The study authors noted, however, that such a standard line of treatment may take up to a year to produce benefits, and doesn't help everyone. Patients can then try shockwave therapy, which involves multiple applications of sound waves directed at the affected area. This treatment is often painful and
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