Heel Pain, Plantar Fasciitis and Acupuncture Treatment
Heel pain has a number of possible root causes, but plantar fasciitis is one of the most common. This condition is often seen in runners and other athletes, overweight people, and people who spend an extensive amount of time standing and/or walking (especially on hard surfaces). In basic terms, plantar fasciitis results from inflammation of the plantar fascia, a broad, ligament-like structure that spans from the calcaneus to the base of the toes. Repetitive stress can cause micro-tears in the fascia tissue, leading to pain (sometimes severe) that can take months to resolve.
Traditional Western therapies for plantar fasciitis include rest, ice, orthotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. More severe cases may require injections or even surgery. However, none of these modalities is considered entirely effective and occasionally patients will develop chronic, disabling symptoms despite their best efforts.
Scientific studies have shown that acupuncture can be an effective form of treatment for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including heel pain and plantar fasciitis. In this respect, acupuncture provide not only pain relief, but also acts as the stimulus to hasten the body’s repair process. By reducing inflammation and pain, acupuncture has shown that it is one of the most effective treatment methods for reversing heel pain and plantar fasciitis.
In an article in a recent issue of Medical Acupuncture, researchers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. examined the role of electroacupuncture in the management of this condition. The results of their study show that electroacupuncture is an effective form of care for plantar fasciitis, producing marked reductions in foot pain and improved function in a relatively short amount of time.
Another common cause of heel pain is Achilles Tendinitis and/or Soleus (muscle) trigger points. It is quite common that athletes will have both plantar fasciitis and inflammation of the Achilles tendon at the same time. The Achilles tendon can develop inflammation when the muscles connected to it (soleus, tibialis posterior) become shortened and develop trigger points. A complete physical exam should always be performed to distinguish between Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.
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