Acupuncture is one of the alternative treatments for heel spur/ plantar fasciitis, and it can be quite successful. Should standard methods fail to work, you might give this a try.
The treatment basically involves placing needles that target the meridians running along your feet and legs (especially along the calf muscles). Sometimes the back is treated as well, as according to acupuncture theor, the cause of the injury does not necessarily lie in the same part of the body as the pain is experienced.
If the treatment catches on, then just a few treatments may be sufficient. Usually you should expect to receive 5-10 treatments, of 20-30 minutes each.
On www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org, the biomechanical mechanism behind acupuncture is explained:
How acupuncture treats Plantar Fasciitis
Acupuncture improves plantar heel pain through several pathways. One way is that the insertion of needles causes a local effect on nerve endings, releasing neuropeptides that help eliminate pain. There is also some excellent research showing that a substance called adenosine is released during acupuncture and has a potent pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effect as well as promoting blood flow to the area. Other local cells, known as fibroblasts, are stimulated by acupuncture promoting tissue healing in the area.
Researchers have also demonstrated that the body releases its own opioids, the body’s natural ‘pain killer,’ during acupuncture treatment.Studies that look at changes in brain activity during acupuncture show that following treatment there is less activity in brain regions associated with pain perception and increased activity in areas that regulate our response to pain.
Application of acupuncture for heel spurs
Before starting treatment, an intake interview will first take place and the complaints will be discussed. In addition to discussing the heel pain, this conversation can also be about your general condition, other complaints and even your bowel movements.
In general, the treatment itself consists of placing thin sterile needles along the energy pathways in the lower legs and feet / ankles, and sometimes also the back. These energy channels are called meridians. In Chinese acupuncture, acupuncture is sometimes used in combination with the herb moxa, which also stimulates blood circulation and also stimulates the production of white blood cells. The moxa can be placed on the skin, but sometimes also a kind of cigar of moxa herb is lit which is kept close to the treatment area and heats it up.