There are numerous distinctive treatments of plantar fasciitis – steroids, NSAIDs, orthotics, surgery, and extracorporeal shock wave therapy – all these treatments have turned out to be quite effective for plantar fasciitis. However, one question that crosses most people’s minds is;
“Can acupuncture help in treating plantar fasciitis?”
Well, acupuncture can be used for several musculoskeletal conditions, which also include heel pain. Different studies ended up giving different results. However, two studies were published. Both of them used acupuncture alone for the control group. The results, though, were contrary.
One of the groups claimed that acupuncture treatment is better than steroid injections. While the other reported the exact opposite. These studies lacked scientific objectivity, which is why it was significant to conduct more extensive research to figure out whether acupuncture was effective for plantar fasciitis or not.
Biological Perspective of Acupuncture Treatment:
Acupuncture can cure plantar fasciitis via different pathways. When the needles are inserted, there is a local effect on the nerve endings that emit neuropeptides reducing the pain. Moreover, a substance known as adenosine is released while needling, known to have anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties. Not only this, fibroblasts (the local cells) are aroused, which promotes rapid healing of the tissues.
According to the studies, during acupuncture treatment, the human body discharges opioids, which helps in reducing pain. It is also known as the body’s natural pain reliever. With this treatment, the activity in the part of the brain which perceives the pain reduces, while the response to the pain increases.
What Does Scientific Study Have to Say?
Plantar Fasciitis is mainly caused due to heel pain. According to some researchers, it is suggested that there are specific acupoints that specifically affect heel pain. The main reason for this research was to analyze whether acupuncture was effective for the treatment of plantar fasciitis or not.
During the study, different subjects were assigned randomly to the treatment group. The practitioners provided the treatment group with needling at the acupoints, which is claimed to have a particular effect on heel pain. Now the treatment group applied the needling at the acupoints almost five times a week for two weeks.
The main reason for this research was to indicate whether acupuncture helped in relieving the plantar fasciitis pain or not. After two weeks, it was concluded that acupuncture could provide pain relief to people suffering from plantar fasciitis.
How Does Acupuncture Help in Treating Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is usually diagnosed as a repetitive stress disorder by a trained acupuncturist. Acupuncture is mainly used to stimulate Qi and release blood inactivity in the energy channels, promoting healing.
Even though it might sound a bit unclear for now, different scientific studies and research show that acupuncture can be effective in relieving pain along with speeding up recovery. Thus, one can say that plantar fasciitis can be treated through acupuncture effectively. The treatment is recommended twice a week for prominent results.
According to different experiments, a group of patients was divided into two; the treatment and control groups. Both these groups were selected for acupuncture treatment to see whether it was effective or not. The needles were inserted at a pressure point, which helps relieve the heel pain in the members of the treatment group. While needling on the control group was done at a point that provides general pain relief. After a couple of sessions, it was concluded that needling at a specific point in the feet turned out to be more effective.
Therefore, we can say that if the needles during the acupuncture treatments are inserted in a specific area, the pain caused by plantar fasciitis reduces within a few weeks.
How Does Acupuncture Treatment Work?
The Chinese initially introduced acupuncture, which is why it is also known as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). The treatment involves inserting fine needles into certain points (known as acupoints) in our bodies. Because of this insertion, the neurotransmitters are blocked, which means the sensation of pain halts which ultimately relieves the pain. As soon as the pain reduces, the healing automatically begins.
A practice quite similar to regular acupuncture but instead of just the needles uses mild electrical currents. This treatment is mainly applied in severe cases where simple acupuncture isn’t working.
Thus, in some cases, the practitioners use mild electrical currents to enhance the stimulation via the needles. This practice is referred to as electrical acupuncture. Licensed acupuncturists can only use this technique. Besides, other chiropractors and practitioners can take additional board certifications and perform acupuncture.
Another famous technique to treat plantar fasciitis is called dry needling. Physical therapists, chiropractors, and acupuncturists can perform this technique. This technique resembles the normal acupuncture treatment. However, there is a slight difference. Instead of energetic channels, the needles are inserted into the muscular trigger areas, resulting in twitching and relaxation, making plantar fasciitis better.
Risks and Side Effects of Acupuncture:
Even though the acupunctural treatment is quite effective, and it still has a few minor side effects. But don’t worry, there is nothing to stress about.
The patients might feel different side effects like bleeding, bruising, and slight pain in or near the insertion site. The less common side effects include fever, dizziness, or faintness. Some people can be affected by internal bleeding or damage of a nerve or an organ, but such cases are rare.
Complications and risks are often higher in individuals who have bleeding disorders. Thus, it is necessary to consult with your physician before going through the procedure.
The Acupuncture Sessions:
In the first session, the doctor or acupuncturist will ask you a few questions – regarding your prior condition and medical history. Taking thorough medical history helps in ruling out any contradictions. Besides, the acupuncturist asks you about your lifestyle and job responsibilities, along with the kind of footwear you use.
Next comes the medical exam. Once you are through with the questioning, the acupuncturist will conduct a medical exam. You’ll have to lie on the table comfortably so that the acupuncturist can insert needles at your pressure points near the heel (in case of plantar fasciitis).
After the needles are properly inserted, you’ll be asked to lie somewhat still for the next 20 minutes, at least for the procedure to work effectively. Acupunctural sessions are conducted 2-3 times a week and sometimes more if the case is severe.
What is the Cost of Acupuncture Treatment?
One thing that worries the patients is the treatment cost. Well, here is a piece of good news. In acupuncture treatment, the initial consultation session is a bit expensive, ranging between $ 100 to $ 300. The following sessions, however, are quite cheap. Ranging between a total of $ 50 to $ 100 per session.
You can also claim medical insurance in this case. If the insurance doesn’t cover treatment for plantar fasciitis, you can reduce the cost by other means like discounts, student charges, etc.
There are various inimitable ways to treat plantar fasciitis. ESWT, NSAIDs, surgery, pain killers, and whatnot. However, acupuncture treatment has turned out to be the most successful one. With minimum side effects and risks, acupuncture treatment turns out to be the most effective.
In this essay, we have elaborated how acupuncture can be effective in treating plantar fasciitis. The researchers, practitioners, and doctors agree that acupuncture is the safest and most effective treatment for plantar fasciitis. Within just a few acupunctural sessions, you can get rid of the intense pain in the heel and live life normally.
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