Does Dry Needling Work for Plantar Fasciitis?
Dry needling for plantar fasciitis has fairly sufficient evidence and is an effective treatment for relieving foot pain. First, to concisely clear up some confusion, let me briefly explain the relationship between acupuncture and dry needling.
Dry needling is a fairly new treatment, but the approach of using acupuncture needles on trigger points has long been a part of acupuncture. It is sometimes referred to as trigger point acupuncture, or trigger point needling.
Now that that’s clear, let’s look at some research. A study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that acupuncture with trigger point acupuncture (dry needling) gave significant relief to patients with heel pain due to plantar fasciitis. Even more surprising, is that these patients already had physiotherapy and shoe supports which didn’t relieve plantar fasciitis symptoms.
This is important because some plantar fasciitis cases resolve with these treatments. The cases in this study were pretty tough cases. Another interesting point is that some of these patients only had acupuncture points needled and their cases of plantar fasciitis didn’t respond. However, when they added dry needling (trigger point acupuncture) in addition to the acupuncture points for plantar fasciitis the study subjects DID get relief.
Where do the Needles go in Dry Needling for Plantar Fasciitis?
The thought of dry needling on the feet can be nerve-wracking.
The fact is, to treat plantar fasciitis with dry needling it may be necessary to needle trigger points in the plantar fascia on the bottom of your foot. Dry needling on the bottom of the foot can be sensitive because of its density of specialized nerve endings, but ultimately a short duration of discomfort is worth it if can help with the persistent and daily pain of plantar fasciitis.
The second area to address when performing dry needling for plantar fasciitis is the calf area. The calf area includes the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. To be honest, the dry needling the calf area can be uncomfortable as well because it typically creates a significant twitch reaction. Sometimes dry needling to the calf feels similar to a brief cramp or charlie horse. Again, I’d argue that a brief session of needling is worthwhile if it’s going to address plantar fasciitis pain, which can be excruciating.
What About Acupuncture and Dry Needling for Plantar Fasciitis?
Acupuncture and dry needling together are a great approach to addressing plantar fasciitis. My typical needling sessions for plantar fasciitis include acupuncture points around the foot, ankle, and lower leg that have been proven to bring relief. After performing acupuncture to those points I’ll do some dry needling in the calf.
By utilizing acupuncture and dry needling together the patient gets the pain relief effects of acupuncture and the trigger point reduction of dry needling. This is why I typically refer to any appointments involving dry needling or acupuncture as “needling” appointments since I like to use a mix of the two techniques.
Check out the video above to learn some exercises for plantar fasciitis to relieve pain. I use a lacrosse ball, a Theraband, and talk about night splints. The video has links to where you can get all these products from Amazon.
This is an older video I made showing a chiropractic adjustment of the foot. Sorry, the orientation is vertical. This was the first video I ever posted, so forgive me! It actually feels good to get your foot adjusted by a chiropractor if your feet feel stiff and rigid, or you’re having plantar fasciitis pain.
Other Chiropractic Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
Chiropractic care is a great treatment option for plantar fasciitis. Chiropractors offer more treatments for plantar fasciitis than just acupuncture and dry needling. Our chiropractors use other therapies like chiropractic adjustments (joint manipulation), joint and soft tissue mobilization, therapeutic ultrasound, Graston Technique (instrument assisted soft tissue release), electrical muscle stimulation, kinesiotape, and a stretching and corrective exercise program to address plantar fasciitis.
Check out some of the videos above to see exercises for plantar fasciitis and to see a chiropractic foot adjustment!
Some patients will recover from these therapies alone and never need to try acupuncture or dry needling for plantar fasciitis. Others, like in the study referenced above, undergo treatment for a while and simply don’t improve enough. That’s why we offer dry needling for plantar fasciitis. Needling often succeeds where other treatments fail.
If you’re suffering from foot pain and are considering dry needling for plantar fasciitis, don’t be afraid to call and set up an appointment. The first thing we’ll do is examine the area and make sure it is, in fact, plantar fasciitis that’s causing your pain.
If you’re unsure whether a heel spur or plantar fasciitis is causing your foot pain, I talk more about the different symptoms here –> Heel Spur Vs Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
If it is plantar fasciitis, we’ll get to work on treating it and hopefully help you avoid having to undergo a painful steroid shot. Cortisone shots and other medical treatment will always be available if your foot pain not getting better with conservative care.
If you’ve got foot pain, whether you’re sure or not what’s causing it, here’s what you should try first! –> 3 Ways to Address Foot Pain without Shots, Medication, or Surgery
Are you experiencing pain in other areas of your leg that may or may not be related to plantar fasciitis? If so, see some of the other content I have on dry needling below:
Dr. Jason Williams DC is a chiropractic physician practicing at AccessHealth Chiropractic in Cary, NC. He treats neuromusculoskeletal pain and injuries using chiropractic manipulation, dry needling, acupuncture, rehab exercise strategies, and other supportive therapies. Primary areas of focus include back pain, neck pain, muscular pain, extremity pain, and orthopedic injuries. Dr. Williams is experienced in treating athletes, especially those in the CrossFit, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and MMA community.
If you’re interested in whether he or another AccessHealth provider can help you, navigate to our contact page or follow this link to request an appointment.