Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

Acupuncture Treats Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is a fairly common cause of heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is commonly known as jogger’s heel due to the condition being attributed as an overuse injury of the plantar fascia which is common among Plantar Fasciitisrunners. The condition may be exacerbated by increased exercise intensity, body weight or advancing age. Plantar FasciitisThough medical nomenclature would suggest the presence of an inflammatory process, newer findings have leaned towards structural degeneration.

Though there can be a temptation to just “walk off” plantar fasciitis, treatment would be recommended since the continued overuse of plantar fascia in this state can lead to a rupture and chronic heel pain. Acupuncture does not only relieve you of the discomfort brought about by the condition but can also aid in foot functionality immediately after the condition is treated.

What are the symptoms and causes of Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis usually causes a sharp heel pain. The pain is most intense when bearing weight after a prolonged period of foot inactivity, usually from a period of rest or from a prolonged sedentary state. As the foot becomes accustomed to the motions, the pain lessens to a certain degree.  It is rare for plantar fasciitis to have any accompanying symptoms like numbness, tingling, swelling or radiating pain.

Though plantar fasciitis has been mostly attributed to cases of excessive running, patients with less active lifestyles have been diagnosed with the condition. Standing on hard surfaces for prolonged periods can be a factor, besides having an unequal leg length or flat feet. Obesity has also been considered an independent risk factor with 70% of cases exhibiting this condition, leading to an association of increased body mass index to the development of plantar fasciitis in the non-athletic population.

How would a doctor diagnose and treat Plantar Fasciitis?

A doctor will most likely examine your feet when you stand and walk. This is an attempt to see if your condition is being caused by leg length inequality, walking stance or flat feet. The examination will also determine the source of pain and where it is more prevalent. The doctor may take a look at your medical history for any past injuries. Inquiries about your lifestyle, work and foot apparel may take place.

An X-ray or a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) may be required by your physician to check for bone spurs or rule out the fractures and tumors. If the patient fails to respond to conventional treatment, a complete blood count (CBC) or the use serological markers may be required to get a more in-depth diagnosis on the possible causes like systemic illness. An electromyography could be requested to rule out any muscle or nerve damage in the area.

Plantar fasciitis is a self-limiting condition and may naturally improve over a 6-month period. A doctor may recommend physical therapy to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. The treatment also aims to strengthen your leg muscles which can help stabilize your ankle and heel.

Since the plantar fasciitis is at its worst coming out of the bed, the physician may recommend night splints to keep the feet and calf stretched. The splint will keep the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon extended and stretched throughout the period of rest.

If pain persists, the physician may recommend corticosteroid injections as a measure of pain management. Frequent injections are not recommended since steroids can weaken the plantar fascia causing it to rupture much faster as well as diminishing the fat layer the covers the heel bone.

Another option is the extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) which has shown to be able to manage pain emanating from plantar fasciitis that has become unresponsive to the non-invasive options. Recent innovation in the technology have shortened the procedure to around 10 minutes without the need for anesthesia.

Surgery is an option to those who have tried all other methods but have failed to maintain sufficient pain relief. Plantar fasciotomy aims to detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone. There is also an option to remove heel spurs though nothing has been found to support any improvement of the surgical outcome. Surgery, however, may open the doors to other side effects like nerve injury and the instability of the arch of the foot.

How would an acupuncturist diagnose and treat Plantar Fasciitis?

After careful consideration of a patient’s medical history, a physical exam to determine the pain source will commence. For plantar fasciitis, this entails the detection of tenderness to palpitation near the inner heel bone on the sole of the foot. A foot motion test consisting of dorsiflexion and plantar flexion will further isolate the pain source. Any pain emanating from the area of the plantar fascia during dorsiflexion can confirm a plantar fasciitis diagnosis without further need of imaging tests.

Acupuncture is a major therapeutic instrument for pain management from plantar fasciitis especially when combined with traditional non-invasive medical remedies. Tightness on the tendons and muscles in the affected area is a common observation while diagnosing for plantar fasciitis. Modalities like cupping and moxibustion can facilitate recuperation in the area by stimulating the endocrine system to release natural anti-inflammatory agents to the affected area while improving overall blood circulation to relieve tightness.

Electro-acupuncture has been seen as an effective modality for recalcitrant chronic plantar fasciitis. When coupled with other bodywork modalities like proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching (PNF), the procedure has been known to significantly reduce pain while increasing foot function. Other bodywork modalities like shiatsu and tuina can aid recovery during physical therapy.

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