Acupuncture for Plantar Fasciitis, by Mark Davis, BHSc (TCM).
Plantar fasciitis is sometimes referred to as “Runners Heel,” it is an inflammation of the muscles on the underlying surface of the foot – the long, flat ligament that runs along the sole of the toes. It is one of the most common & painful foot problems which some people typically experience when getting out of bed in the mornings, or after being seated for prolonged periods.
Plantar fasciitis is usually caused from repetitive strain to the heel area, it is a common, and very persistent injury afflicting runners, walkers and hikers, and people who stand on hard surfaces like concrete & tiled surfaces for extended periods.
Although pain is typically felt between the arch and heel of the foot, plantar fasciitis pain often originates in the muscles of the lower legs and calf. When these muscles are tight and overstretched, it puts strain on the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot. Being quite a stubborn condition, people can often see many health practitioners and typically invest quite large amounts of money in ongoing treatment for cortisone injections and orthotics.
At Root & Branch Oriental therapies, we have found quite a good success rate using manipulation of the calf muscle with heat therapy, combined with distal acupuncture which avoids upsetting the already inflamed facia of the plantar surface; typically most cases resolve within 3-4 consultations. Several products such as liniment patches and foot soaks are available to compliment the physical intervention between treatment.
Medical Science shows similar results; Xu Xuemeng et al., Guangzhou Dongcheng Hospital randomly divided 66 plantar fasciitis patients into an acupuncture group and a conventional therapy control group. The acupuncture group received standard acupuncture and the control group received triamcinolone acetonide acetate injections and local blocking therapy. The results were assessed 6 months after the completion of all treatments. The acupuncture group achieved a total effective rate of 97% and the drug therapy group had a 76% effective rate.
The aforementioned research is not an isolated finding; Guangzhou Social Welfare House researchers (Tang et al.) performed a meta-analysis of 19 independent plantar fasciitis clinical trials. A total of 16 of the 19 studies made extensive use of Ahshi acupuncture points. Based on the data, the researchers determined that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of plantar fasciitis. The following are some of the studies included in the meta-analysis.
Acupuncture has a proven and lengthy track record for producing significant positive outcomes rates for patients with plantar fasciitis. The data indicates that access to acupuncture, moxibustion, and TCM herbal foot baths is an adequate solution for the vast majority of patients.
Additionally it is worth considering that adverse reactions to acupuncture and trigger point therapy under controlled conditions by a properly accredited practitioner are rare.
Tang, Cuanqi, et al. “Progress of Clinical Research on Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Heel Pain.” World Chinese Medicine 9.1 (2014): 120-123.
Gao F, Zhao B, Fan XH. Thrust acupuncture and injection therapy in treating plantar fasciitis 150 cases [J]. Yunnan TCM Herbs Journal, 2015, 36(6): 80-81.