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Comparing the Effects of Two Foot and Ankle Splints for Foot Pain

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Last updated:4th Aug 2014

Plantar fasciitis (severe pain in the heel) is a common problem that has a significant impact on quality of life. There is some evidence to support the use of orthoses and stretches in the conservative management of plantar fasciitis but current orthotic management may not be optimal. More prolonged stretching with night splints may achieve better results but such splints are clinically not well tolerated. Therefore, there is a potential need to apply prolonged stretching during the day and during dynamic tasks such as walking. This has led to the development of other rigid and semi-rigid splints that have shown promising results in small scale clinical trials. There are disadvantages however with the more rigid bracing and orthoses seen in these types of splints. For example, they are often difficult to accommodate with a person's available shoes; this can be particularly difficult for women and thus limits their compliance with the intervention. Further, more rigid bracing can be uncomfortable during fast walking and running and so limits participation in such activities.

Recently a novel orthotic, a customised dynamic elastomeric fabric orthoses (DEFO), has been developed. Being made from lycra® based materials the sock-like splint is lightweight and discrete, allowing it to be accommodated easily into most shoe types and potentially better tolerated when worn at night compared to currently available splints. Its design further allows it to be used comfortably during dynamic tasks such as walking and running as supported by initial anecdotal evidence in athletes. To date there has been no evaluation into the effectiveness of the DEFO in the general population with plantar fasciitis.

This study will look at the feasibility of conducting a randomised controlled trial into the use of a DEFO compared to an off-the-shelf orthoses as an adjunct to usual care.

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Study start date 2014-08-04

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