Treat Foot Pain with Dry Needling & Steroids

This is a very interesting new idea for foot pain. particularly plantar fasciitis The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot.  When the bottom of the foot is overstressed, it can first cause pain; the pain could be from an aerobic injury or even improperly fitting shoes. It is the most common muscular-skeletal problem that  Podiatrists (foot doctors) encounter, according to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine.

Conventional foot pain treatment involves a combination of anti-inflammatory medication; foot rest; switching to shoes with improved arch support and orthotics; and physical therapy.  It may take up to a year to produce benefits, and doesn't help everyone.

The next recommendation is often shockwave therapy, which involves multiple applications of sound waves directed at the affected area. This is an outpatient procedure involving anesthesia and can result in numbness, swelling, and bruising,  The last option is surgery.

The following test was conducted in Italy:

"Searching for an alternative treatment, Sconfienza and his colleagues focused on 44 plantar fasciitis patients who had proven "unresponsive to medical therapy." Radiologists first applied a local anesthetic to the patients' affected heel area, and then repeatedly poked the region with a solid needle -- a procedure known as dry-needling -- to provoke more blood flow to the area.

A small amount of steroids was then injected into the same area, with ultrasound guidance used to improve accuracy and to avoid injecting the steroids into the plantar fascia, which could rupture the tissue. Following a single 15-minute treatment, orthotics were inserted into each patient's footwear to take pressure off the rear part of the foot."

They claim 42 of 44 patients reported improvement within 3 weeks.

Dr. Johanna Youner, a  member of the American Podiatric Medical Association  and a New York City podiatrist, said "what is interesting is the notion of using dry-needling -- that is poking at the inflamed area repeatedly. This would increase the trauma to the area a little, and by doing that increase blood flow. That is not a traditional treatment. And it might seem counterintuitive. But when you increase inflammation and blood flow to an area you can help it heal faster. And the fascia itself is a ligament that does not have a lot of blood flow, so it heals slowly. So this could theoretically help."

Note:  There is an at-home therapy for foot pain here.

Lead author:  Dr. Luca M. Sconfienza,  University of Genoa department of experimental medicine.