Podiatric conditions involve dysfunction of the musculature, joints, and fascia of the legs and feet. Achilles tendinopathy is one of the most common injuries in sport (National Health Service (NHS) Clinical Knowledge Summary, 2012). It accounts for 6-17% of all running injuries, estimated to effect up to 50% of elite athletes and is predominant in men, especially athletes. Plantar fasciitis is the most common type of pain in the inferior heel, and is amongst 11-15% of all foot symptoms requiring professional care amongst adults (Buchbinder, 2004).
A literature review undertaken in 2016 shows that acupuncture can assist in treating achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis. Outcomes for both these conditions when treated with acupuncture are improved with stretching/eccentric exercises and treatment frequency should ideally be higher within the first 1-2 weeks of a treatment course (2-3x/weekly), reducing to 1x/week frequency in the second or third week depending on the patients response.
Results from a trial by Takaoka, Ohta, Ito, Takamatsu, Sugano, Funakoshi, et al. (2007) suggest that EA may induce cell proliferation in skeletal muscle. A study by Kim, Wang, Lee, Kim, Chung, & Chung, (2009) showed that EA selectively inhibits centrally mediated pain by suppressing central sensitization. One trial by Kubo, K., Yajima, H., Takayama, M., Ikebukuro, T., Mizoguchi, H., & Takakura, N. (2010) assessed acupuncture and heating on the blood volume and oxygen saturation of the Achilles. Kubo et al. (2010) concluded that “acupuncture and heating treatments could contribute to tendon repair”. Foell, (2010) published a case study of a 68 year old male with AT used EA and attention to muscle function and gait. The patient improved immediately and after 3 sessions he was able to walk and jog.
Biomedicine options can be physiotherapy, (including eccentric exercises, motor improvement, biomechanical improvement, orthotics) paracetamol and local injections.
There is growing interest in using an integrative East-West health approach, such as that of Marcus (2004), who is proposing that “the ability to accurately diagnose and treat musculoskeletal and soft tissue disease is…dependent on the ability to move fluently amongst medical paradigms” which could strengthen communication between biomedicine medicine and Chinese Medicine (CM) practitioners.