How acupuncture helps conquer heel pain

heel-pain-apmr-163030886About 10% of us experience heel pain, and it’s usually caused by plantar fasciitis, which occurs when you strain the ligament that supports the arch of your foot.

The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament, which can lead to pain and swelling. The condition—which can occur in one foot or both—is especially common in midlife, although it can occur in younger people who are on their feet a lot.

Symptoms include pain and tenderness—especially after getting out of bed or after you’ve been sitting for a while. Although the discomfort may dissipate after you take a few steps, your foot may ache more later in the day. Climbing the stairs or standing for long periods can worsen the pain.

Traditional treatments include anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections, but they can have serious side effects. Fortunately, a growing body of research suggests that acupuncture—the ancient Chinese practice of placing thin needles under the skin—may be helpful.

In a recent study published in Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, people experiencing plantar fasciitis were assigned to a treatment group or a control group. The treatment group, which consisted of 28 patients, received acupuncture in an area of the body thought to be involved in heel pain. The control group—which had 23 patients—received acupuncture for general pain relief. Treatment was given five times per week for two weeks.

After a month, the people who received heel-specific acupuncture experienced a significant reduction in pain. There were no severe adverse reactions—only mild swelling and bruising. Although researchers don’t know exactly how acupuncture works, they suspect acupuncture may have an anti-inflammatory effect.

If you want to learn more about how physical therapy and acupuncture can help relieve heel pain, contact us here.

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