Kishmishian, Berj, Selfe, James and Richards, J
A historical review of acupuncture to the Achilles tendon and the development of a standardized protocol for its use.
Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists
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Achilles tendon injuries are a common occurrence in the general population. Middle-aged runners are particularly prone to Achilles tendinopathy, but non-sporting individuals are also affected by these problems. Tendinopathy accounts for 30–50% of sports injuries, and it has been identified as a major medical problem associated with overuse that is most prevalent in sporting and working environments. Acupuncture is widely used in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders; however, few studies have investigated the effects of needling on the Achilles tendon. The first application of acupuncture to the Achilles tendon was recorded in ancient China. During the twentieth century, this approach evolved into the herringbone technique, but treatment has not been standardized. This paper reviews the development of acupuncture to the Achilles tendon, and describes a recently developed standardized and specific nine-needle acupuncture treatment protocol. The authors also highlight the physiological pro-inflammatory changes that occur in the Achilles tendon when this protocol is administered, and propose that such an approach can be a useful adjunct to the treatment of Achilles tendinopathy.