New research proves that acupuncture relieves the pain of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammatory condition of the foot. Plantar fasciitis pain is usually perceived on the underside foot/heel and is often most painful with the first footsteps of the day. Also, plantar fasciitis may cause pain upon dorsiflexion (raising the ankle so that the foot is lifted towards the shin).
This randomized, controlled study is interesting in that only one acupuncture point was tested for efficacy. In most studies, a combination of points are used to determine whether or not acupuncture is effective for reducing pain. The study tested point P7 (Daling, “Big Tomb”). P7 is located in the middle of the transverse crease of the wrist between the tendons of the m. palmaris longus and m. flexor carpi radialis on the palmer side of the body. P7 is a Shu-Stream point and Yuan (Primary) acupuncture point that is known for the treatment of Heart and Spirit related issues including myocarditis, palpitations, insomnia, mental illness, irritability, and cardiac pain. P7 is also used for Stomach related conditions, however, nearby point P6 is a more common point for the treatment of Stomach issues such as stomachache, nausea, and vomiting.
According to Chinese medicine and acupuncture theory, Shu-Stream points treat a heavy sensation of the of the body and painful joints. P7 is therefore a common point for the treatment of wrist pain because it is a Shu-Stream point located at the wrist . However, the researchers have chosen P7 for the wrist’s distal relationship to the ankle and heel region.
In this study, P7 was needled bilaterally if the pain of the heel/foot was bilateral. Contra-lateral acupuncture needling was used if the pain was unilateral. The needles were 15mm long with a 0.25mm gauge. The acupuncture needles were inserted perpendicularly to a depth of approximately 10mm with slight rotation and thrusting to achieve the Deqi sensation. Deqi is often reported as a dull ache, numbness or heaviness. The needles were then manipulated every 5 minutes to maintain the Deqi sensation and the needles were retained for a total time of 30 minutes. A total of five treatments per week at a rate of one per day (Monday through Friday) for two weeks were administered for a grand total of 10 acupuncture sessions. All acupuncture needling was performed by experienced acupuncturists. At a six month follow-up examination, the P7 acupuncture group showed a significant improvement over the control group.
Shi Ping Zhang, Tsui-Pik Yip, and Qiu-Shi Li. Acupuncture Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial with Six Months Follow-Up. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative, Medicine, Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 154108.