What is the role of percutaneous radiofrequency nerve ablation (RFNA) in the treatment of plantar heel pain?

Updated: Feb 10, 2020
  • Author: Vinod K Panchbhavi, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Thomas M DeBerardino, MD  more...
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Percutaneous radiofrequency nerve ablation (RFNA) of the calcaneal branches of the inferior calcaneal nerve in patients with chronic heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis has also been used successfully in a few reports. However, there are no prospective randomized controlled studies comparing RFNA with other treatment modalities.

A prospective study by Erken et al reported their 2-year follow-up results of RFNA of the calcaneal branches of the inferior calcaneal nerve in 35 feet in 29 patients with chronic plantar heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis between 2008 and 2011. [45]  All of the patients who were treated had been complaining of heel pain for more than 6 months and had failed conservative treatment. The average VAS score of the feet was 9.2±1.9 before treatment, and the average American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) score was 66.9±8.1 (range, 44-80).

After treatment, the average VAS scores were 0.5 ± 1.3 at 1 month, 1.5 ± 2.1 at 1 year, and 1.3 ± 1.8 at 2 years. [45] The average AOFAS scores were 95.2 ± 6.1 (range, 77-100) at 1 month, 93 ± 7.5 (range, 71-100) at 1-year follow-up, and 93.3 ± 7.9 (range, 69-100) at 2-year follow-up. At the 1- and 2-year follow-up, 85.7% of the patients rated their treatment as very successful or successful.

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