Although low-energy extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is widely used to treat a variety of soft tissue disorders, no precise algorithm has been accepted in clinical management. Furthermore, the clinical use of a new generation pneumatic device has not yet been evaluated. We performed a double blind randomised controlled trial on a group of 25 patients with heel pain from chronic plantar fasciitis, to assess the efficacy of ESWT. The main outcome measure was the patients' subjective assessment of pain by means of a Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and the Roles and Maudsley Score before ESWT, early after treatment and six months later. There appeared to be a significant placebo effect with low-energy ESWT in patients with heel pain, and there was also lack of evidence for the efficacy of ESWT when compared to sham therapy.