How Effective Is Acupuncture For Plantar Fasciitis?

acupuncture for plantar fasciitis

If you got plantar fasciitis, then chances are that you have tried a number of remedies. Although, treatments such as wearing night splints or using insoles, taping your feet, taking Anti Inflammatory medications, massaging your feet or stretching programs do work, there are still some unconventional and alternative ways to treat plantar fasciitis. Thanks to the wonderful world of alternative medicine, there is widely know treatment called acupuncture for plantar fasciitis that can help runners beat the pain and recover fast.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes the ‘plantar fasciitis’ injury oh-so dreading in the runner’s world.

Also, known as the ‘Runner’s Heel’, plantar fasciitis is one of the most common injuries among runners and athletes.Plantar fascia is a ligament, the thick and flat band of connective tissues, located on the bottom of our foot. It originates near the heel bone, medically known as the calcaneus bone.

It basically connects our toes to the heel bone. Its function is to support the arch of the foot. While running, this ligament works closely with the Achilles tendon to both, store and return energy. It stabilizes our inner forefoot when the force peaks during push off.

A runner develops Plantar Fasciitis condition when this ligament becomes strained. Straining and excessive lowering of the foot arch increases tension in the plantar fascia that results in tiny tears of the ligament, and overloads the attachment of the plantar fascia on the calcaneus bone. If not treated timely, it swells, becomes inflamed and weak – shooting unimaginable pain into the heel during runs.

According to sports specialists, runners are most likely to experience this condition if they have tight calf muscles. Other factors that may lead to plantar fascia straining are excessive pronation and repeat hill workouts. You’ll be surprised to know that approximately 10% of runners experience plantar fasciitis injury in their career and unfortunately, some even quit because of it, mostly because of the pain. But for a passionate runner, quitting is never in the cards. A passionate runner looks for solutions to fire up the run rather than waving a white flag and saying goodbye to the tracks.

Based on our research, we’re confident that acupuncture for plantar fasciitis is probably one of the best treatments available. We can go on advocating how good it is, but that’s not our style. Like always, what we’ll do is empower you with complete knowledge about this treatment so that you can decide for yourself. We’ll walk you through what it acupuncture, how it works, what medical science says about it and wait, we’ll also share with you some client reviews so you know what to expect. Shall we begin?

All You Need to Know About Acupuncture

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear of the word ‘acupuncture’? Needles? China? Well, you’re right! But let us share with you its history, why it’s called acupuncture and its benefits.

If you break down the word acupuncture, acus means needle and punctura means to puncture. It is a type of alternative medicine, a key component of Chinese medicine. The origins of acupuncture can be traced back at least 2000 years – which also makes it one of the oldest treatments. It involves thin needles that are inserted into the patient’s body to stimulate acupuncture points, thereby releasing a flow of energy that helps treat both nausea and pain effectively. It is believed that this stimulation boosts the body’s natural painkillers and also improves the blood flow.

This clinical practice may be the oldest but it is used even today as an effective and reliable treatment for drug-free pain relief. Did you know that one of the largest studies conducted on acupuncture to date – a Meta analysis of about 29 studies comprising of roughly 18,000 patients which was published in 2012 – found that acupuncture is an effective method for chronic pain treatment?

Other benefits of acupuncture include:

  • Provides effective and holistic approach to treat a wide range of acute & chronic illnesses
  • Promotes natural self healing process
  • Assists in the prevention of disease
  • Is great for maintaining general well-being
  • Is known to treat disorders like
  • Neurological conditions: headaches and migraines
  • Cardiovascular disorders: chest pain, muscle cramps, angina pectoris and blood pressure
  • Respiratory conditions: Sinusitis, hay fever, bronchial asthma and chronic cough
  • Uro-genital disorders: kidney problems and nocturnal enuresis
  • Digestive system disorders: gastric and duodenal ulcers, gall bladder disorders and hiccough
  • Skin conditions: eczema and nerve rash
  • Sports injuries: plantar fasciitis, tearing of muscles, cartilage problems

To learn more about acupuncture,  click here.

Acupuncture – See How this Treatment Works?

Now that we know the benefits and its origin, let’s take a closer look at how this therapy actually works. Acupuncture is a treatment that stimulates specific acupuncture points along the skin using sterilized and fine needles. This helps clear energy blockages and facilitates normal flow of qi through the body. An acupuncturist may also use methods like cupping, electro-stimulation, moxi-bustion and laser therapy to stimulate the acupuncture points when and if needed.

We’re sure that you might be wondering about what are acupuncture points? Basically, these are points located on the body’s meridians. The meridian system is a network of invisible channels. In other words, it is a Chinese Medicine belief that there is a path in the body through which the life energy referred to as “qi” flows. However, recent studies suggest that meridians are points in the body with bio-physical properties like thermal, optical, isotopic and electric – making them different from non-acupuncture points. “qi” helps keep the yin and yang forces balanced. Yin and Yang are two opposing forces that can trigger pain when the “qi” energy gets blocked.

Simply put, acupuncture is a treatment that works to release blocked Qi energy in the body, evoking the body’s natural healing response. This treatment is individualized for best results.

Before the treatment is suggested, the acupuncturist first performs a physical examination of the patient using unique assessment tools, depending on the health needs of the patient. Based on the examination results, the acupuncturist devises a proper acupuncture treatment plan.

Generally, during this treatment, the patient is asked to lie on a treatment table while the acupuncturist stimulates various areas of the body by gently placing sterilized needles. Most people feel either no or minimal discomfort. These needles are placed at the acupuncture points for 5 to 30 minutes. The needles cause the body to release natural painkillers and experience better energy flow.

Patients report this treatment to be quite relaxing. In fact, they feel more energized after the treatment. Also, note that the frequency of the treatments may vary from patient to patient. Some may experience great relief in the first session while others may need at least 8 sessions.

Find Out How Acupuncture Can Treat Plantar Fasciitis

As we mentioned earlier, if you’re suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, then acupuncture is perhaps the best treatment for you. Here’s a closer look at why we think acupuncture can really help alleviate this problem:

According to trained acupuncturists, Plantar Fasciitis is diagnosed as a repetitive stress disorder that occurs as an acute strain. Since you experience inflammation in your tendons, ligaments and bones, it is believed there is Qi and blood stagnation in the channels. To alleviate the pain and treat this condition, acupuncture is recommended at least twice a week for 3 weeks. Many people experience improvement in their condition after 6 treatments.

Acupuncture Points for Plantar Fasciitis

Treating Plantar Fasciitis with acupuncture requires knowledge and understanding of acupuncture points for plantar fasciitis. The entire procedure involving acupuncture points can be easily divided into 4 simple steps. Here’s an overview:

Step 1– The first step is to focus on the yin surface of the foot. Needle Shaofu HE-8 at the Shaoyin corresponding point. Once the needle is inserted, the acupuncturist asks the patient to walk for at least up to 5 minutes.

Step 2– In the next step, the acupuncturist tries to activate Fuliu KID-7 plus Jiaoxin KID-8 or Dazhong KID-4 plus Shuiquan KID-5 acupuncture points that help activate the kidney channel and simultaneously treat heal pain symptoms. Other points that are activated are Taichong LIV 3 that benefits your ligaments and tendons. The Yongquan KID-1 is located directly in the plantar fascia. It basically separates into bands. The acupuncturist uses electrical stimulation techniques between these two points Taichong LIV-3 and Yongquan KID-1 to help lower pain caused by plantar fasciitis. Chengjin BL-56 and Chengshan BL-57 points located in the calf muscles are palpated and incorporated into the treatment.

Step 3– In this step, the acupuncturist identifies the points that benefit the qi, blood and the zangfu organs like kidney and liver. Studies show that liver imbalances have been identified in patients with plantar fasciitis and deficiency in the kidney may also increase the susceptibility of plantar fascia injury. Identification of these points helps the acupuncturist devise a better treatment plan.

Step 4– The acupuncturist divides the treatment into local and adjacent points. Shimian M-LE 5 is the main target zone for plantar fascia. This point is a local point located in the middle of the plantar fascia surface of the heel. Using palpation technique, the acupuncturist determines the best needle insertion sites. These sites are usually:

  • Two points at Shimian M-LE-5 where the acupuncturist inserts at least 2 needles.
  • Medial Shimian is the point near the medial tubercle of the calcaneous bone. Needle is inserted at this location directed toward the center of the heel. Besides this, the acupuncturist may also use electrical stimulation techniques to help treat plantar fasciitis among patients.
  • Medial Shimian is often paired with Shimian M-LE-5 by the acupuncturist for better treatment. The needle is gently inserted in Medial Shimian region at a 90°angle to the perpendicular insertion of another needle at Shimian M-LE-5. At this location, the acupuncturist may insert either 2 or four needles – 2 needles are perpendicular and 2 are inserted from the medial side, which are directed towards the center of the heel.

The acupuncturist may divide this technique into three depths of insertion to make sure the process is comfortable for the patient. He/she may use three depths of needle insertion during a thirty minute session.

For example, for the first 10 minutes he/she will insert needles at a superficial depth, while the second insertion will be slightly deeper – to an intermediate depth – and the final depth of insertion will be at the plantar surface.

Now you know how acupuncture for plantar fasciitis works. Now let us hear from an acupuncturist and see him perform the procedure to treat plantar fasciitis.

Let’s Talk Science – Here’s What Medical Science Says about Acupuncture

Since its inception, there have been and there are still many medical researches being carried around the world to identify the effectiveness of this treatment. And let us tell you that several studies have proven the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment for plantar fasciitis.

Here’s a look at some ground breaking medical researches on acupuncture:

The Department of Orthopedics in Bedford South Wing Hospital performed a study on acupuncture treatment’s effectiveness for heel pain due to plantar fasciitis. It included a sample of 18 patients with a history of heel pain. Patients were offered acupuncture treatment in which the following acupuncture points were needled

  • Taixi (KI.3),
  • Sanyinjiao (SP.6) and
  • Kunlun (BL.60)

The treatment was offered for a span of 4 weeks that included two sessions per week. The results of the study showed significant improvement in patients, proving the effectiveness of acupuncture as a viable treatment for plantar fasciitis.

Another research study was carried out recently in a controlled environment to understand the effectiveness of acupuncture for plantar fasciitis. The study included 2 groups. One group was treated through acupuncture while the other group received five weeks of medications and other treatments which included stretching exercises and shoe modifications to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain.The research showed that the acupuncture group had a significant reduction in heel pain as compared to the other group.

To take the same study to the next level, this time, the acupuncture group received both the electro-acupuncture treatment coupled with conventional treatments like shoe modification, stretching exercises and analgesic medications. This time, the group demonstrated a success rate of 80 percent in reducing chronic plantar fasciitis.

Here’s another research which we’d love to share with you. A controlled trial study with six months follow up on acupuncture treatment for Plantar Fasciitis was conducted in 2011. The aim of this medical research was to identify both the efficacy and specificity of acupuncture for Plantar Fasciitis. Two groups were formed – the treatment group and the control group. A total number of 28 subjects were chosen randomly for the treatment group. And 25 subjects were assigned for the control group.

The treatment group received needling at PC 7 acupoint. This acupoint is claimed to have a specific effect on plantar fasciitis related heel pain. On the other hand, the control group received needling at Hegu (LI 4) acupoint which is known to have analgesic properties. The treatment was carried out five times a week for about 2 weeks. The method of needling for both groups was identical – manual needling.

Let’s look at the outcomes. Out of the two, significant pain reduction was experienced by the treatment group in comparison to the control group. And no group experienced any serious adverse effects.

How Much Does Acupuncture Cost and Is it Worth the Money?

When it comes to choosing a treatment option, cost is one of the key factors that impact the treatment selection decision. Agreed? Well, then without any delay, we’ll now jump to the cost analysis data that we have compiled for your convenience and better decision making.

Generally, the median cost of acupuncture treatment across the US is $100. However, there are some practitioners who may charge you as much as $400. For those living in Milwaukee or Salt Lake City, acupuncture treatment is quite affordable while this treatment is slightly more expensive in states like Washington DC, New York and Atlanta.

You will most certainly be in luck if your health insurance company covers for acupuncture but that’s quite rare. Private insurers most often don’t pay for it and neither does Medicaid or Medicare. So, before you schedule a session with the acupuncturist, it is advisable that you first discuss it with your health insurance company and find out whether or not this treatment is covered.

It is also important to understand that high price doesn’t necessarily mean high quality for the treatment. Therefore, you might have to take some time out to evaluate your choices before you make your pick.

How To Choose An Acupuncturist?

For best results, you need to find the right and professionally trained practitioner. And that’s exactly what we’ll help you with. Here are some of the best tips for selecting the right acupuncturist for the job:

1.     Try Using NCCAOM Practitioner Search Engine

For more information about acupuncture or to find the best and qualified acupuncturist, log on to http://www.nccaom.org/. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is a reputed and recognized non-profit organization that validates entry level competency in the practice of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine through professional certification. Once you log on to this website, click on ‘Find a Practitioner’ tab. This will lead you to their practitioner search engine directory. It is a voluntary directory which is designed to assist individuals find qualified and certified NNCAOM practitioners. The directory is up to date and available for public use.

2.     Google

The internet has truly brought the world to your fingertips so why not make the most of it! Google online for quality practitioners. Read client reviews and their experiences. Besides this, you’ll also be able to find several acupuncturist websites in your area. Go through them to learn about their services, experience and treatment cost. Navigate through your choices and then filter out the best ones.

3.     Seek Recommendations

Over the years, acupuncture has grown very popular. There are chances some of your friends might have actually tried this treatment. So, the best way is probably to seek out recommendations. Get referrals from friends who have tried this treatment. This will help you make the right choice.

4.     Evaluate Acupuncturist on Their Level of Experience and Expertise

Instead of opting for a self-proclaimed acupuncturist, evaluate practitioners based on their experience and skills. Remember, experience really matters! A well trained acupuncturist with a wealth of experience can offer you a better therapy than the one who’s just recently joined the industry. Knowing acupuncture points and what treatment plan will work for each patient the best comes with experience. So, it’s most certainly crucial to opt for someone trained and experienced. After all, you don’t want pay a practitioner who merely hits in the dark and experiments on you. You need someone who knows exactly what he/she’s doing.

5.     Price

As we stated earlier, acupuncture treatment is growing tremendously. This means you might be able to find a handful of experienced practitioners in your local area. When that’s the case, you can definitely make your pick, keeping price in consideration. Let’s just say that before you start a program of acupuncture, determine your budget and how much are you willing to invest on this treatment. It will most certainly help you make a good choice without overriding your expenses.

6.     Get in Touch with Your Insurance Provider

Before you make your final decision, make sure you get in touch with your insurance provider. Find out if acupuncture services are covered. Meet the provider and ask the following questions like what is the out of network deductible? How much of the deductible will be met and how much will be reimbursed? And if there is any limit to the number of visits covered?

Experiences Shared – Acupuncture for Plantar Fasciitis Reviews By Patients

Clients tell it like it is! Like it’s said ‘it’s good to learn from other people’s experiences’; so here are some reviews from people who’ve actually tried it. Let’s see what they have to say about acupuncture for plantar fasciitis.

Success Story #1

This is a review by a patient who opted for acupuncture treatment for plantar fasciitis in 2013. According to him, he had practically tried every treatment available for pain relief but nothing worked for him. That’s when he decided to give acupuncture a shot. He referred to his pain as 8 on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 meant excruciating pain. When he went for the treatment, the acupuncturist asked him to lie on the table and relax while he inserted needles directly into the inflamed nugget of tissue of the patient’s heel. After 10 minutes, the acupuncturist twisted each needle and the same procedure was repeated twice. Then he performed “gua sha” where the acupuncturist used a Chinese soup spoon to scrape the bottoms of the patient’s heel. After that, a technique called moxi-bustion was used for increase blood flow and circulation. This was initially strange for the patient but he later said that the results he experienced from the treatment were satisfactory. So, that’s definitely a positive response. He said that his pain was significantly lowered.

Success Story #2

Another review that we have here is by a newly trained acupuncturist who tried this treatment on her patient who was limping because of plantar fasciitis. She said that she placed needles on the tender spots of the patient’s heel. Once the first session was complete, the patient was amazed with the reduction in pain. It took the patient five visits to get rid of the pain and that too, without any drug use.

Success Story #3

We read how effective acupuncture is in treating plantar fasciitis. Now, let us hear from a patient who got rid of plantar fasciitis through acupuncture.

What’s Your Call?

Acupuncture has proven to help smokers stop smoking. Similarly, it has shown results in treatment of plantar fasciitis. Now that we have given all the possible information on acupuncture for plantar fasciitis, we are sure that you will be able to make a better and informed decision. Though this may be a 1000 years old treatment, but it’s effective even today. Many people with plantar fasciitis have benefited from acupuncture so why not you? Schedule a consultation appointment with a certified acupuncturist. He/she will examine your condition and accordingly, provide you with an individualized acupuncture treatment plan best suited to your condition. Don’t delay, take action today! Save

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Summary
How Effective is Acupuncture for Plantar Fasciitis
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How Effective is Acupuncture for Plantar Fasciitis
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Got Plantar Fasciitis? Tired of conventional treatments and looking for an alternative? Then, acupuncture for plantar fasciitis is the answer.
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Daniel Ayers
 

Daniel Ayers is the mind behind BlogMilk, a blog that helps runners find the best running shoes and treat running injuries. He actively participates in marathons and shares his experiences with runners in the sports community.

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