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Use of Primary Corticosteroid Injection in the Management of Plantar Fasciopathy

Is It Time to Challenge Existing Practice?

Paul Kirkland Division of Podiatry, School of Health, University of Northampton, Northampton, England.

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 BSc (Hons, PodMed), BSc (Hons), Grad ISM, CMS, FCIPD, MChS
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Paul Beeson Division of Podiatry, School of Health, University of Northampton, Northampton, England.

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 BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, PGCertRDS, FCPodMed, FHEA
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Plantar fasciopathy (PF) is characterized by degeneration of the fascia at the calcaneal enthesis. It is a common cause of foot pain, accounting for 90% of clinical presentations of heel pathology. In 2009–2010, 9.3 million working days were lost in England due to musculoskeletal disorders, with 2.4 million of those attributable to lower-limb disorders, averaging 16.3 lost working days per case. Numerous studies have attempted to establish the short- and long-term clinical efficacy of corticosteroid injections in the management of PF. Earlier studies have not informed clinical practice. As the research base has developed, evidence has emerged supporting clinical efficacy. With diverse opinions surrounding the etiology and efficacy debate, there does not seem to be a consensus of opinion on a common treatment pathway. For example, in England, the National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence does not publish strategic guidance for clinical practice. Herein, we review and evaluate core literature that examines the clinical efficacy of corticosteroid injection as a treatment for PF. Outcome measures were wide ranging but largely yielded results supportive of the short- and long-term benefits of this modality. The analysis also looked to establish, where possible, “proof of concept.” This article provides evidence supporting the clinical efficacy of corticosteroid injections, in particular those guided by imaging technology. The evidence challenges existing orthodoxy, which marginalizes this treatment as a secondary option. This challenge is supported by recently revised guidelines published by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons advocating corticosteroid injection as a primary treatment option. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 103(5): 418–429, 2013)

Corresponding author: Paul Kirkland, BSc (Hons, PodMed), BSc (Hons), Grad ISM, CMS, FCIPD, MChS, c/o Division of Podiatry, School of Health, University of Northampton, Park Campus, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 7AL, England. (E-mail: paulkirkland@talktalk.net)