Can LLLT Therapy help relieve Plantar Fasciitis pain?
Plantar fasciitis (PF) is the most common cause of acquired sub-calcaneal heal pain in adults. The incidence of PF is estimated at 10%, and most commonly occurs in the 40 to 60 years old population, especially including women, soldiers, athletes, and obese individuals
The plantar fascia is the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot. When this tissue becomes swollen or inflamed, it is called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot is overstretched or overused, resulting in inflammation of the plantar fascia. This can be painful and make walking more difficult. The most common symptom is pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. The heel pain may be dull or sharp. The bottom of the foot may also ache or burn.
Kiritsi, et al. (2010), Ultrasonographic evaluation of plantar fasciitis after low-level laser therapy: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, Lasers Med. Sci. 25:275-81
Wang W ,Tang C, Zhang X, Xiang J. Clinical efficacy of low-level laser therapy in plantar fasciitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Jan; 98(3): e14088. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6370152/. Published online 2019 Jan 18.
Alves AC, et al. (2013), Effect of low-level laser therapy on the expression of inflammatory mediators and on neutrophils and macrophages in acute joint inflammation, Arth. Res. Ther. 15:R116,
Kiritsi et al. (2009) investigated the effect of LLLT on unilateral plantar fasciitis in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. The purpose of our study was twofold: first, to investigate the efficacy of LLLT in plantar fasciitis by ultrasonography and second to measure its effectiveness with a 100 mm visual analogue scale. Specifically, researchers measured the effect of LLLT using ultrasonographic appearance of the aponeurosis and by patients’ pain scores. The contralateral (asymptomatic) foot was used as a control. Real-time B mode ultrasonography is a non-invasive, inexpensive, easy to perform technique, which makes it an ideal imaging modality for the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, with good sensitivity and specificity. Thickening of the plantar fascia (more than 4 mm) is a well-established sonographic criterion for the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. In all studies a significant increase in the plantar aponeurosis thickness was observed in symptomatic feet compared with the contralateral asymptomatic side of the patients, or with the heels of individuals who had never experienced plantar heel pain, Study participants were randomly assigned to receive LLLT or a sham control three times weekly for six weeks (for a total of 18 sessions). LLLT was administered with a laser with an infrared wavelength of 904 nm. Pain estimation on a VAS improved significantly in all test situations. The number of patients with normalized fascia thickness was greater in the LLLT group. We should state that we used the patient’s contralateral asymptomatic side as a measure of normalization of the aponeurosis thickness. In summary, we believe that [LLLT] laser therapy may contribute to plantar fasciitis healing and pain reduction.
A systematic review and meta-analysis by Wang et. al (2019) evaluated 6 randomized controlled trials. The meta-analysis indicated that compared with the control group, visual analogue scale (VAS) score significantly decreased at the end point of the treatment in LLLT group. In addition, this improvement continued for up to 3 months. They concluded this meta-analysis indicates that the LLLT in patients with PF significantly relieves the heel pain and the excellent efficacy lasts for 3 months after treatment. Plantar Fasciitis is yet another example of an inflammatory condition that responds to LLLT.
The results of Kiritsi, et al, Wang et. al, and Alves as well as other studies provide competent and reliable scientific evidence that LLLT has a beneficial effect in those with plantar fasciitis.