While I do not identify myself as a runner, I have managed to put away a few small races and even a mini-marathon. Needless to say, I have had my share of knee pain and ankle twists. When I sprained my ankle several years ago in a canyon, I had it lanced and cupped and within two days it was like it never happened. I have also seen my share of plantar faciitis in practice and have to admit I always feel like a bully when I administer treatment - having needles placed in your heel no matter how thin they are is uncomfortable. While most of us see patients at the chronic stage of the disease, it is a joy to be able to treat at the onset of injury. For athletes, this is especially true as it gets them back in training all the faster.
Can Acupuncture Heel an Injury?
When one of our staff members developed plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the layer of tissue that supports the arch of the foot), she sought treatment from a podiatrist and physical therapist, and iced, rested, and stretched the area. Despite her efforts, the pain continued. So she decided it was time for an alternative therapy-acupuncture.
She went to four sessions with neurologist, certified acupuncturist, and runner Robert Roeshman, M.D., of Allentown, Pennsylvania. During each appointment, Dr. Roeshman inserted 15 to 30 thin, pliable needles into her calves and feet. She felt some initial discomfort, but as she grew more comfortable with the process, the pain subsided. He next attached an electrical-stimulation device to a few of the needles. After 30 minutes, he detached the machine, removed the needles, and voil?Our runner felt better-much better.
"After the second session, I went running, and there was absolutely no pain in my heel." There are constant electrical charges flowing through the body, says Dr. Roeshman. The needles are placed in acupuncture points where there is decreased electrical activity. By generating an electric flow between these points, the brain is stimulated to release endorphins and trigger the immune system to help injuries heal. If done when an injury is "fresh," acupuncture can significantly reduce recovery time, he says. "An ankle sprain that would normally take seven to 14 days to heal could be better in one to three days."