Pulsed Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Field Therapy: A Potential Novel Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis

Published:February 10, 2012DOI:


      Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain, and although treatments are usually conservative, they can take up to 2 years to achieve resolution. A double-blind, multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled study was used to evaluate a small, wearable, extended-use pulsed radiofrequency electromagnetic field (PRFE) device as a treatment of plantar fasciitis. A total of 70 subjects diagnosed with plantar fasciitis were enrolled in the present study. The subjects were randomly assigned a placebo or active PRFE device. The subjects were instructed to wear the PRFE device overnight, record their morning and evening pain using a 0- to 10-point visual analog scale (VAS), and log any medication use. The primary outcome measure for the present study was morning pain, a hallmark of plantar fasciitis. The study group using the active PRFE device showed progressive decline in morning pain. The day 7 AM-VAS score was 40% lower than the day 1 AM-VAS score. The control group, in comparison, showed a 7% decline. A significantly different decline was demonstrated between the 2 groups (p = .03). The PM-VAS scores declined by 30% in the study group and 19% in the control group, although the difference was not significant. Medication use in the study group also showed a trend downward, but the use in the control group remained consistent with the day 1 levels. PRFE therapy worn on a nightly basis appears to offer a simple, drug-free, noninvasive therapy to reduce the pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

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