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5 ways dry needling can improve plantar fasciitis symptoms



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Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common types of foot pain. Occurring in around 10% of the general population, plantar fasciitis is a condition where the plantar fascia (the ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot) gets injured or inflamed. That inflammation can cause pain and stiffness in the arch of the foot. This pain is usually worse upon waking, with prolonged standing, or after being on your feet a lot.

How can dry needling help plantar fasciitis symptoms?

There are several different ways dry needling can help with symptoms of plantar fasciitis, from pain management to increased range of motion. Here are five ways dry needling sessions can help you feel relief:

  • Relieve pain — Because dry needling often targets trigger points or sore areas of muscle, it can disrupt pain signals that flow from the muscles in and around the plantar fascia to the brain. This can offer pain relief in the arch of the foot that should start within a day of your session. 
  • Decrease muscle tension — Dry needling causes the affected muscles to spasm, which can release tension in the surrounding tissue. That release of tension in the muscles can help with both stiffness and muscle pain in the arch of your foot.
  • Improve mobility — Dry needling can relax the tissue surrounding the plantar fascia, making it easier to flex and move your foot. This can also help you perform exercises that can promote long-term healing in the plantar fascia.
  • Reduce inflammation — Inflammation can often be the root of pain, especially in plantar fasciitis. Dry needling increases blood flow, which can help reduce inflammation in the affected tissue.
  • Promote healing — The thin, hollow needles used in dry needling create tiny lesions in the muscle. These lesions alert the body to begin healing that injury, promoting blood flow and healing into that area. This can help heal damaged tissue in and around the plantar fascia.

Dry needling is an effective physical therapy tool to address plantar fasciitis, especially when used alongside other techniques. The pain relief that dry needling offers can make it easier for you to do stretches and exercises more easily, which also promotes healing.

What is dry needling?

While it might sound scary, dry needling is a common physical therapy practice that uses needles to address pain and other medical symptoms that are interfering with everyday life.

Thin, hollow needles are inserted directly into the muscles of the affected area. The goal of this treatment is to cause the muscle to spasm and release tension that may be causing pain and reduced mobility. Many people confuse dry needling and acupuncture. However, while dry needling originates in Western medicine, acupuncture comes from traditional Chinese medicine.

There are several different methods of dry needling. Here are two common types your physical therapist may use to treat your plantar fasciitis:

  • Trigger point dry needling — A trigger point is a highly sensitive part of the muscle that can cause referred pain. This means that the pain you’re experiencing may feel like it’s coming from somewhere other than its source. This form of dry needling targets the source of the pain by stimulating the trigger point in the muscle, causing the muscle to spasm and release tension.
  • Superficial dry needling — This form of dry needling focuses more on trigger points in the myofascial tissue that connects bones, muscles and joints. In superficial dry needling, the needle is inserted just under the skin but stops before reaching the muscle. This can cause the muscle to reflex, helping to relax that trigger point and release tension that may be causing pain.

Your physical therapist will evaluate your condition to see what form of dry needling may be helpful to you. While dry needling shouldn’t hurt, you may experience some soreness and muscle ache afterward. It should feel similar to a post-workout ache and will appear within the first 24 hours of your dry needling session. However, you should also be able to move more easily and with less pain after your session.

Our physical therapists at REPAIR SI are highly trained in the latest techniques of dry needling and are ready to help you address your foot pain. If you’re ready to take control of your plantar fasciitis, contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.