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Dry Needling for Plantar Fasciitis: What you need to know

Dry Needling for Plantar Fasciitis: What you need to know

Plantar fasciitis is a widespread and challenging musculoskeletal condition that impacts millions of individuals globally. Luckily, among the many treatments, dry needling has become an incredibly effective method for relieving the pain and discomfort caused by this condition.

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of dry needling for plantar fasciitis, uncovering its causes, mechanisms, benefits, and what patients can anticipate during treatment. Get ready to discover how this innovative approach can bring relief and hope to those dealing with plantar fasciitis!

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is primarily caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Common causes include:

  • Overuse from activities such as running or standing for extended periods
  • Poor foot mechanics, such as flat feet or high arches
  • Wearing unsupportive footwear
  • Obesity, which adds extra stress to the plantar fascia
  • Age-related changes in the foot structure

Studies show that every year, more than two million people in the United States are treated for plantar fasciitis alone, highlighting the widespread impact of this condition on foot health and mobility.

How Dry Needling For Plantar Fasciitis Works

Dry needling involves the insertion of fine, sterile filiform needles into specific trigger points within the muscle tissue. For plantar fasciitis, these needles target the hyperirritable spots of tension and inflammation in the foot and calf muscles, offering a promising treatment alongside physical therapy treatments for alleviating muscle pain. The primary goals are to reduce muscle tension in the skeletal muscle, improve blood flow, and trigger a healing response.

The process works by disrupting the cycle of trigger point pain and inflammation, promoting tissue repair, and restoring function. By targeting the neuromuscular points directly, dry needling can effectively reduce Plantar fasciitis symptoms and improve mobility more rapidly than some other treatment methods.

Is Dry Needling Good for Plantar Fasciitis?

Is Dry Needling Good for Plantar Fasciitis?

The effectiveness of conservative treatments like dry needling for plantar fasciitis, which is of musculoskeletal origin, has been supported by various systematic reviews assessing its methodological quality and study protocol. In the long term, dry needling has shown moderate-quality evidence, with a confidence interval, for improving both musculoskeletal pain intensity (MD ≈ -1.77 points) and related disability (SMD ≈ -1.75) compared to a comparison group as measured by the pain subscale.

In a preliminary study that included 44 patients with plantar heel, researchers achieved a 95% success rate in completely resolving plantar fasciitis symptoms, including improvement in plantar heel and motion of ankle joint, relief that has so far lasted for more than ten months since the procedure. Newer studies have shown about 50-70% improvement.

Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis

Understanding the common risk factors for plantar fasciitis is crucial in both preventing and treating the condition, especially when considering invasive therapies and analyzing patterns of care. If you’re wondering how to stop plantar fasciitis and achieve chronic pain reduction, consider these key risk factors affecting the pain subscale:

  • High-impact physical activities such as running, ballet dancing, or other forms of vigorous exercise
  • Occupations that require long periods of standing or walking can affect daily activities and contribute to abnormal walking patterns
  • Improper footwear that strains muscle fibers
  • Sudden increases in physical activity levels
  • Age (those aged 40-60 are at higher risk)
  • Pre-existing foot conditions such as flat feet or high arches
  • Specific treatment options like injection therapies, including corticosteroid injections and dry needling

Potential Benefits of Dry Needling for Plantar Fasciitis

  • Pain Relief: Dry needling can significantly contribute to the reduction in pain associated with plantar fasciitis, making it a valuable treatment for plantar fasciitis by targeting and releasing taut bands and connective tissue trigger points.
  • Reduced Inflammation: The technique helps in creating a favorable biochemical environment by decreasing inflammation in the plantar fascia and surrounding connective tissue, promoting faster healing.
  • Improved Mobility: By alleviating pain and reducing muscle tension, dry needling can improve overall foot mobility and function.
  • Accelerated Healing: Stimulating blood flow, energy flow, and the body’s natural healing processes can lead to quicker recovery times.
  • Long-Lasting Relief: Patients often experience long-term relief from symptoms, reducing the frequency of flare-ups.
  • Reduced Need for Medication: As a non-pharmacological treatment, dry needling can decrease the need for pain medications such as acetylsalicylic acid and anti-inflammatory drugs, lowering the risk of side effects.

While there are numerous benefits, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects associated with invasive treatments like corticosteroid injections or dry needling for plantar fasciitis, especially if you have underlying dermatological diseases, as highlighted in a recent national study on treatment outcomes. These adverse events may include minor bruising, soreness, or temporary discomfort at the injection or needle insertion sites. Always consult with your therapist about any concerns you might have.

What to Expect During Dry Needling Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

What to Expect During Dry Needling Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

Initial Consultation

Your journey begins with an initial consultation at RecoverRx Physical Therapy, where a thorough assessment of your condition, medical history, and daily activities is conducted.

Identification of Trigger Points

Using flat palpation, your therapist will identify specific trigger points in the plantar fascia and surrounding muscles that contribute to your pain.

Needle Insertion

Using fine, sterile needles, the therapist will carefully insert them into the identified trigger points. This process is generally quick and may cause a brief discomfort or twitch response.

Needle Manipulation

Once inserted, the needles may be gently manipulated using the pistoning technique to enhance the therapeutic effect, promoting muscle relaxation and increased blood flow.

Monitoring and Adjustments

Throughout the treatment, your therapist will monitor your response, including any twitch responses to the needle insertions, and make necessary adjustments to ensure optimal results and comfort.

Post-Treatment Care

After the session, your healthcare professional may recommend post-treatment care, such as gentle stretching exercises, foam rolling, ice application, or modifications in footwear.

Rehabilitation and Follow-Up

A comprehensive rehabilitation plan will be provided to support your recovery, including follow-up sessions to monitor progress and make further adjustments as needed.

Conclusion

Dry needling, rooted in principles from Chinese medicine, is recognized as an effective treatment option for plantar fasciitis, offering numerous benefits such as pain relief, reduced inflammation, improved mobility, and enhanced function. With evidence supporting its effectiveness and a high success rate in alleviating symptoms, dry needling (often referred to as dry needle therapy) is a valuable treatment for plantar fasciitis. Randomized control trials have consistently shown their efficacy in comparison to other interventions despite the potential risk of bias. If you’re struggling with this condition, consider consulting with RecoverRx Physical Therapy to explore how dry needling can be integrated into your treatment plan. This therapy also impacts autonomic phenomena associated with pain perception, contributing to its comprehensive approach to managing plantar fasciitis.

FAQs

Is dry needling effective for plantar fasciitis?

Yes, dry needling has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and improving function for patients with plantar fasciitis. Studies and clinical evidence support its use as a treatment modality.

How long does dry needling take to work on plantar fasciitis?

The effects of dry needling can often be felt immediately, though multiple sessions may be required for sustained relief. Patients typically experience significant improvement after a few weeks of consistent treatment.

How much does dry needling cost for plantar fasciitis?

The cost of dry needling for plantar fasciitis varies depending on the clinic, the number of sessions required, and the specific needs of the patient. It is best to consult with RecoverRx Physical Therapy for detailed pricing and treatment plans.

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AUTHORS

Dr. Luke GreenwellDr. David Bokermann and Dr. Sarah Greenwell are Performance Based Physical Therapists with extensive backgrounds in optimizing movement, performance, & recovery.

RecoverRx

We help Athletes and Active Adults Recover from Pain and Injury, Rebuild Functional Movement Patterns, and Redefine their Future Performance,  for a Return to the Sports and Activities they Love

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