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Acupuncture/Accupuncture for plantar faciitis?

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Question
Micheal
I have a small heel spur and plantar faciitis. It flares up every few years, usually after heavy impact such as running.
It flared up again in September and has not completely resolved. I used a night sock, pain relief gel, self massage, and custom orthotics to no avail, and only after three cortisone shots did the pain resolve. However, I am still unable to walk for any long distance, heaven forbid run, without the pain coming back. I have gained a  some weight lately, which is probably a factor. I have resolved to lose weight and a low fat diet is helping, and I am doing foot exercises to help.
The only option I have not tried is accupuncture, so I just made an appointment with a physical therapist that does this. In your opinion, will this be effective? It certainly helped the pain from a knees meniscus tear a few years ago, so I am hoping it will help my foot.
Thanks, and best wishes to you and yours.

Answer
Bud-
Plantar fasciitis can be extremely frustrating to treat, not to mention the pain involved.  I assume you know that foot position during sleep can make it worse and that you have most likely tried something to hold your foot so that it does not become extended at night.  What happens is that it is not the foot position per se that causes the problem; it is getting out of bed and walking without stretching your calf muscles that compounds the problem.  When you put weight onto your foot, the tight connective tissue in the plantar surface of your foot and calf create micro tears.  That is when plantar fasciitis develops.  The answer here is to gently pull your foot back and stretch it by hand before you get out of bed - even when you get up in the middle of the night.  This is where acupuncture can be useful - by treating the gastroc and soleus so that they are relaxed you partially remove some of the cause of the injury.  I often treat this condition and have good (albeit sometimes slow) results using acupuncture points SP6, UB57, GB34, and SP4 along with local massage and gentle stretching. Acupuncture can also be useful in reducing localized inflammation; some practitioners also use electricity on the needles to help reduce pain and inflammation. Orthotics seem to either not improve the condition or to make it worse, although of course I never see patients who have used orthotics and became improved immediately before they sought treatment with acupuncture.

So give acupuncture a try.  If it helps keep your calf and soleus muscles relaxed, and you stretch your foot by hand before you get out of bed after sleeping, then the chances are you will benefit.

Of course, losing weight will help as will avoiding running in shoes that are either too stiff or too flexible.  

I wish you well.  Or, as we say here in Hawaii,

Malama pono - - -

Mike Zanoni

Acupuncture

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Michael M. Zanoni, MS, LAc

Expertise

I am knowledgeable about severe and chronic pain from musculoskeletal or neurological conditions, especially trauma, headache, and fibromyalgia. I can provide guidance that will assist healing and recovery after illness or surgery. I have a particular interest in long-term chronic conditions that are becoming progressively worse or intermittently severe (such as viral hepatitis, Crohn's, or Takayasu syndrome.) I have extensive experience treating endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or thyroid problems, where the primary condition is being monitored by a Western-trained physician, and cancer where there are specific treatment goals other than cure (e.g., decrease of pain; reduction of side effects of radiation and chemotherapy; lessening of edema; palliative treatment of associated conditions.) I do not treat or answer questions about infertility, ALS, or senile dementia.

Experience

I have practiced Oriental medicine for over sixteen years in a variety of settings. Much of my practice has centered around a busy clinic specializing in severe long-term chronic pain conditions and palliative care. For several years I worked in a hospice program. I also established a non-profit community clinic providing care to under-served and homeless patients. My work has found me in an HIV clinic in San Francisco, a busy private practice in Oregon, to traveling on muddy 4-wheel drive roads to see dying patients. I now teach acupuncture and Oriental medicine at a school in Hawaii.

Education/Credentials
My training was at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco where I received a masterís degree in Chinese Medicine. I have current board certifications in Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, and Chinese Herbology from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I also have certifications in Chinese tui na bodywork, Physical Rehabilitation Training, and biofeedback. I am licensed to practice acupuncture and Oriental medicine in Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. I also have BA, MS, and PhD degrees in subjects not directly related to Oriental medicine.

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