Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, MBA, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether the use of acupuncture, including electroacupuncture, is effective in treating pain in patients with plantar fasciitis.

STUDY DESIGN: Review of 3 RCTs published between 2011-current, all in the English language.

DATA SOURCES: Three RCTs analyzed the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy compared to a control group using alternate analgesic therapies. All studies were found using EBSCOhost and PubMed and were selected based on relevance to the proposed clinical question.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: Each of the 3 articles analyzed the effectiveness of treating pain with acupuncture treatment in patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. The Visual Analog Scale (VAS), Function Foot Index (FFI), and Plantar Fasciitis Pain Scale (PFPS) were the tools used to measure pain. Significance of the outcomes was determined using analysis of variance (ANOVA), Chi-square test, independent t-tests, paired t-tests, and covariance with Bonforroni correction and regression analysis.

RESULTS: All 3 studies showed a significant decrease in pain following treatment with acupuncture. Karagounis et al10 found a statistically significant reduction in pain at the 8 week follow up measurement in patients who had conventional therapy plus acupuncture compared to those who had conventional therapy only. However, at the 1 month follow up, the results showed no significant difference in pain between the two groups. This differed from the Zhang et al11 study in which researchers found a significant difference between the two groups in morning pain at the 1 month follow up. Kumnerddee and Pattapong12 found that the success rate for pain reduction during the day for the acupuncture group was significantly higher than the control group at both the completion of treatment and at the 6 week follow up.

CONCLUSIONS: The RCTs discussed in this review suggest that acupuncture is an effective alternative treatment for pain management in patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis when considered in comparison to conventional analgesic therapies. However, it is inconclusive as to at what point between the completion of treatment and the follow up period do patients attain relief of symptoms.