The energy in our body is the primary focus of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Moving this energy or QI allows the body’s own energy to give healing where it is needed. TCM also believes in supporting and strengthening our organs. The liver, for example, is responsible for the fascia and the tendons and ligaments it encases.
Our day begins when we take that first step out of bed. From that point on, our feet are put under constant pressure. Each step uses an average of two hundred muscles, and the average American takes three to four thousand steps daily. This shows how much our feet are used each day. For some people, their feet begin to cause them pain from all this work. That first step out of bed becomes a painful process and sometimes continues to get worse throughout the day.
The word Plantar is a word used by medical professionals to describe the sole of the foot. This is the bottom of your foot from the heel to the toe (the area that hurts if you accidentally step on something sharp.) Fasciitis is a bit more complicated to explain, but it is a thin connective tissue that holds everything together. In the foot, the fascia has our muscles and nerves in place. It encases our tendons and gives space to our blood vessels. In medical terminology, “ITIS” means inflammation.
When we break down the definition of Plantar Fasciitis, we begin to understand that it is an inflammation of the fascia located in the sole of our foot. This inflammation makes standing and walking very painful. It causes a stabbing or burning pain on the heel of the foot and sometimes into the entire foot with each step.
The thin needles inserted into specific points during acupuncture stimulate many crucial elements in the area. The nerves, connective tissue, blood flow, and our body’s pain receptors are boosted. This process helps to alleviate inflammation and pain occurring in the heel.
There are several lines of conservative treatment for people living with Plantar Fasciitis. These treatments, such as injections or surgery, are not traumatic to the body.
Acupuncture is quickly becoming more accepted by Western Medicine. Many providers refer patients to an experienced acupuncturist as the first line of conservative treatment. This has driven many insurance carriers to pay for the service since it could prevent more invasive and costly procedures from occurring. Many studies prove that it works. Here are a few specific to Plantar Fasciitis.
Pain Reduction - Three different studies were conducted on patients with Plantar Fasciitis using acupuncture versus a placebo acupuncture technique. In each study, those patients receiving a proper acupuncture treatment had significantly less pain than those with the placebo acupuncture.
Acupuncture versus Steroid Injection –- A group of people with Plantar Fasciitis were divided into two groups. One group was treated with a needle modeled after the acupuncture needle called a mini scalpel needle or MSN. The other group was given a steroid injection. Both groups were monitored for 12 months to assess progress and pain. The group treated with the MSN had significantly less pain throughout the 12 months. The people who were given a steroid injection had good results, with less pain in the first month, but the subsequent months showed it was ineffective.
Variances within acupuncture practices - Even within the acupuncture practice, variances can drive outcomes. In this study, two groups were receiving acupuncture as a treatment for Plantar Fasciitis. One group was treated using the acupoint PC 7, and the other was treated at acupoint Hegu (L1 4.) While both groups experienced less pain, those treated at PC 7 had better outcomes.
The fascia responsible for this pain connects your heel bone to your toes. The exact cause of Plantar Fasciitis is unknown. There are some connections with runners, overweight people, the shape of your foot, and workers who stand for long periods. When the foot is under constant pressure, the fascia can become irritated. In some instances, there may even be small tears in the fascia. All this irritation causes Plantar Fasciitis to be so painful for those experiencing it.
Using acupuncture as a conservative treatment approach will ease your pain without requiring more invasive procedures or medications. When searching for an acupuncturist, you will want to find a licensed provider with experience and education in the field.
The EBOM team has experienced practitioners who can help develop a treatment regimen to help resolve the pain you are experiencing from Plantar Fasciitis.
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