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A Retrospective Study of Standing Gastrocnemius-soleus Stretching Versus Night Splinting Within the Treatment Of Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, yet the conservative treatment of plantar fasciitis is not standardized. This open retrospective study compared the effects of standing gastrocnemius-soleus stretching to a prefabricated night splint. One hundred and sixty patients with unilateral or bilateral plantar fasciitis were evaluated and treated according to the standard regimen in addition to either night splints or stretching. Seventy-one patients performed standing stretching of the gastrocnemius-soleus complex. Eighty-nine patients utilized the prefabricated night splint without standing stretching. The night splint treatment group had a significantly shorter recovery time, fewer follow-up visits to recovery, and fewer total additional interventions (p=.034) compared to the stretching group.
Absolute body weight, body mass index, and age did not have a statistically significant effect on the time to recovery or additional interventions needed. The duration of pain prior to our treatment was a predictive factor and was associated with increased time to recovery and increased number of treatment interventions. It was concluded that early treatment in a standardized four tiered treatment approach including the night splint without standing stretching of the gastrocnemius soleus complex, speeds time to recovery. (The Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery 41(4):221-227, 2002)
Lance D. Barry, DPM, Cartersville, GA
Anna N. Barry, MS, Cartersville, GA
Yinpu Chen, PhD, Smyrna, GA

New Cure for Heel Pain
This new night splint “sock” helps treat plantar fasciitis

by: Amby Burfoot

A new study has found a simple, nonsurgical, no-injection, and highly effective way to resolve plantar-fasciitis pain. The key: use of a “night splint,” specifically a low-cost splint called the Strassburg Sock. A night splint is a temporary splint that you wear only while sleeping.

The study, published in The Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery, pitted two therapies against each other: the Strassburg Sock and a traditional calf-stretching regimen. Each was used to treat a group of patients suffering from plantar fasciitis. The night splint was far more effective than stretching, helping patients recover in an average of 18.5 days versus 58.6 days for the stretching regimen. Head researcher Lance Barry, D.P.M., a marathon-running podiatrist, believes the splints worked best because immobilization of an injured tissue is the first step toward helping that tissue heal. “The long established principles that govern the healing of bone and other soft tissues should be used in the treatment of plantar fasciitis,” he says.

Barry says he has tried other, more bulky night splints, but his patients haven’t liked them because their bulkiness makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep. At the first sign of plantar fasciitis, Barry suggests following these steps:

  1. Stop running for 1 to 2 weeks, until you no longer experience morning heel pain.
  2.  Cross-train. Bicycle, aqua-jog, or do other aerobic exercise that doesn’t stress the plantar fascia.
  3.  Avoid wearing high-heel shoes, walking barefoot, and doing squats and calf raises.
  4. Wear the night splint until you have gone 7 days without pain. This usually takes 3 to 4 weeks.
  5. Take anti-inflammatory medicine for 10 days.[/column]
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