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Plantar heel pain syndrome (PHPS), also known as plantar fasciitis, affects millions of people worldwide. Electroacupuncture (EA) and manual acupuncture (MA) are the two acupuncture modalities frequently used for PHPS in the clinical setting. However, which modality is more effective has yet to be determined. To examine whether EA is more effective than MA with regards to pain relief for patients with PHPS. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive 12 treatment sessions of EA or MA over 4 weeks with 24 weeks of follow-up. The primary outcome was the proportion of treatment responders, defined as patients with at least a 50% reduction from baseline in the worst pain intensity experienced during the first steps in the morning after a 4-week treatment, measured using a visual analogue scale (VAS, 0-100; higher scores signify worse pain). Analysis was by intention-to-treat. Ninety-two patients with a clinical diagnosis of PHPS were enrolled from 29 July 2018 through 28 June 2019. Of the patients, 78 (85%) completed the treatment and follow-up. The primary outcome occurred in 54.8% (23/42) of the EA group compared to 50.0% (21/42) of the MA group after the 4-week treatment (difference -4.76, 95% confidence interval, -26.10 to 16.57, P = 0.662). There were no significant between-group differences for any secondary outcomes after 4 weeks of treatment and at 16 weeks and 28 weeks of follow-up. There were no serious treatment-related adverse events in either group. Among patients with PHPS, EA did not have a better effect with respect to relieving pain intensity than MA at week 4, although both EA and MA appeared to have positive temporal effects, with decreased heel pain and improved plantar function. ChiCTR1800016531 (Chinese Clinical Trial Registry).


Weiming Wang, Yan Liu, Ruimin Jiao, Sixing Liu, Jie Zhao, Zhishun Liu. Comparison of electroacupuncture and manual acupuncture for patients with plantar heel pain syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Acupuncture in medicine : journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society. 2020 Aug 18:964528420947739

PMID: 32811186

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