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Healing Heel Pain: Researchers from Sahmyook University Explore the Use of Local Vibration in Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

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01/18/2024
scienmag.com

Plantar fasciitis (PF) is a common musculoskeletal, inflammatory condition, characterized by severe pain in the heel of the foot, to the extent that it limits day-to-day activities. The plantar fascia ligament, a fibrous connecting tissue, supports the arch of the foot and functions as a shock absorber, similar to modern-day car suspension systems. With increased activity, the ligament can experience tears and damage, leading to the development of PF.

Plantar fasciitis (PF) is a common musculoskeletal, inflammatory condition, characterized by severe pain in the heel of the foot, to the extent that it limits day-to-day activities. The plantar fascia ligament, a fibrous connecting tissue, supports the arch of the foot and functions as a shock absorber, similar to modern-day car suspension systems. With increased activity, the ligament can experience tears and damage, leading to the development of PF.

Treatment for PF includes pain management through anti-inflammatory drugs, stretching exercises, night-splint therapy, steroidal medications, and extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT). While ESWT has proven to be beneficial and effective in reducing heel pain, it is expensive and has adverse effects such as increased pain sensitivity, especially in chronic cases of PF.

To this end, a team of researchers led by Dr. JongEun Yim, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and Director of the Active Aging Research Center at Sahmyook University in Seoul, South Korea, explored the use of local vibration (LV) in combination with ESWT to treat PF. Their research findings were made available online on October 23, 2023, in Volume 55 of the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Explaining the motivation behind the present research, Prof. Yim says, “PF is a common and painful orthopedic ailment affecting many individuals. However, there are limited therapy options available at present. This motivated me to study novel PF treatment options that can be more effective and contribute to improved patient outcomes.” Interestingly, their study revealed the combination of local vibration and extra-corporeal shock therapy as an effective approach for treating chronic plantar fasciitis.

The team conducted a randomized controlled trial involving 34 participants that were divided into two treatment groups. One group received a combination of local vibration (LV) and ESWT, while the other group underwent ESWT alone. Parameters were assessed at the beginning and end of a 5-week treatment period, including ultrasonography to track plantar fascia thickness, and a questionnaire to evaluate plantar-heel pain and foot function. The results indicated that using the LV and ESWT combination was more effective and significant in reducing the thickness of the plantar fascia and heel pain.

“LV devices are portable, inexpensive, and reduce pain after PF treatment. This study highlighting the novel combination approach may help to establish a treatment protocol for the PF condition,” concludes Prof. Yim.

In summary, this study captures a novel therapeutic intervention to treat PF and reduce the burden of heel pain.

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Reference

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2340/jrm.v55.12405

About the institute

Sahmyook University is situated in metropolitan Seoul, South Korea. The university is renowned for its pristine campus, earning the title of “Korea’s most beautiful university.” Its commitment to environmental sustainability is reflected in its eco-friendly construction. The university prides itself on its unique holistic academic counseling system in which students and professors organically work together in receiving and giving guidance. Comprising six colleges, including the College of Theology, Humanities & Social Science, and Health Science & Social Welfare, as well as four graduate schools, Sahmyook University provides a comprehensive educational experience.

Website: https://www.syu.ac.kr/eng/

About Prof. JongEun Yim from Sahmyook University

Dr. JongEun Yim is an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and Director of the Active Aging Research Center at Sahmyook University in South Korea. His research group has conducted studies on evidence-based approaches to fall prevention and musculoskeletal disorders in older adults. It has received government funding to develop applications for fall prediction and preventive exercise programs, and to design wearable devices for real-time fall monitoring in the elderly. Before moving to Sahmyook University, Dr. Yim received his Doctor of Science degree in Physical Therapy from Loma Linda University, California in 2012.



Journal

Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine

DOI

10.2340/jrm.v55.12405

Method of Research

Randomized controlled/clinical trial

Subject of Research

People

Article Title

Effects of Local Vibration Combined with Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy in Plantar Fasciitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Article Publication Date

23-Oct-2023

COI Statement

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare

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