Acupuncture, Chiropractic: A Healing Combo

Dancer is pirouetting again after therapy combo heals plantar fasciitis.

Following her graduation from high school, Robina Vigilante took a job as a cashier at a major drugstore chain. During that time, Robina also entered college with a plan to major in premed. Then she had an epiphany.

“I’m bordering on zero pain now, so I’m back to walking and dancing.” – Robina

“I got promoted at work from cashier to pharmacy technician,” Robina remembers. “While in the pharmacy I thought, This would be a nice career. So, I changed my major. I’ve been a pharmacist since 1993.”

Robina began her career as a pharmacist with a drugstore similar to the one she worked at after high school. For the past 14 years, however, she’s worked from home.

“As a pharmacist working from home, I’m basically an editor,” Robina shares. “I view images of prescriptions on my computer and make sure everything is typed properly. I then send the prescriptions to the store to be filled.”

Although Robina watches a computer screen all day, she’s far from sedentary. She’s been a dancer since age 9 and is currently taking classes in ballet, jazz and modern dance.

Recently, however, she suffered an injury that left her in significant discomfort.

“We were practicing jumps during ballet class, and I heard a popping noise when I landed on my right foot,” she reveals. “After that, I couldn’t walk on my foot, so I went to an orthopedic walk-in clinic. They said it was probably my plantar fascia and that I should just take it easy for a while.”

The plantar fascia is the fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes.

“I was on crutches for two weeks, then went for physical therapy,” Robina adds. “That helped some, but I still had pain in my foot when I stood or walked, so I visited a podiatrist who ordered an MRI. The images showed I had severe plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia) and a tear in the tendon behind the shin bone on the outside of the ankle.”

To ease Robina’s pain, the podiatrist recommended a cortisone injection to reduce the inflammation.

“The injection helped for maybe two weeks, but I never got to where I could go back to dance class or even go for a decent walk because I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot,” Robina reports. “The pain was pretty much a 10 on a scale of one to 10, and the fact I wasn’t able to go to dance class was very disheartening. I was becoming depressed.

“Then someone said, Have you tried acupuncture? I hadn’t, so I did a Google search and stumbled upon Palm Coast Acupuncture & Wellness. There was a review on its website by someone who had plantar fasciitis who said the doctors at the practice really helped her. So, I made an appointment and met with Dr. Heather.”

Heather Schuerlein, AP, DACM, LAc, Dipl OM, is a board-certified acupuncture physician. In treating Robina, she worked hand-in-hand with Bryan Schuerlein, DC, a board-certified chiropractic physician who treats all muscles and functional components of the body, including the foot.

Innovative Techniques

“Robina came to us suffering with severe foot pain, mainly from plantar fasciitis,” Dr. Heather recalls. “She’s a dancer and had sustained an injury that was not healing. She tried physical therapy and was placed in a boot to help stabilize the muscles and keep her from using the foot, but that didn’t help.

“Typically, it takes months for people to recover from this type of foot pain. However, there are certain acupuncture and chiropractic techniques that, when used together, can reduce this pain very quickly, much faster than when either treatment is used alone. Instead of months, recovery time can be reduced to two weeks with great results.

“Robina selected our clinic because we offer multiple treatment options, including acupuncture and chiropractic. We were able to help her considerably using a combination of those two treatment approaches.”

Acupuncture is an age-old healing technique in which hair-thin needles are inserted at specific points on the body that correlate with certain disorders and conditions.

“The acupuncture greatly reduced the inflammation in Robina’s plantar fascia,” Dr. Heather reports. “It also decreased swelling and increased circulation in her foot, which accelerated healing from the injury.”

Dr. Bryan helped augment that healing using chiropractic care.

“When it’s injured, the plantar fascia can cramp and spasm, and it can hold that contraction for months, even years,” Dr. Bryan asserts. “In situations like that, myofascial adhesions, which are collections of scar tissue that cling to muscle fibers, also form in the foot. Those adhesions must be eradicated to return the foot to full function.”

To accomplish that task, Dr. Bryan used an innovative technique called instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, or IASTM. During this technique, the chiropractor uses specially designed instruments to mobilize scar tissue and break up adhesions.

“Think of IASTM as a comb for muscles,” Dr. Bryan relays. “When people get knots in their hair, they have to comb them out. This technique is essentially doing the same thing with the muscles.”

“Miraculous” Combination

Thanks to the combination of acupuncture and soft tissue mobilization, Robina quickly regained full function of her sore foot.

“Dr. Bryan is known as The Foot Whisperer, and I can attest that the name applies,” Robina enthuses. “Besides the IASTM technique, he used therapeutic ultrasound and foot adjustments. He also addressed the tendon issue I had and showed me exercises and stretches for strengthening it.”

In addition to acupuncture, Dr. Heather also treated Robina using massage and infrared light therapy, the latter of which uses wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal damaged cells.

The combination of therapies had what Robina describes as a “miraculous” effect.

“I’m bordering on zero pain now, so I’m back to walking and dancing,” says Robina, who has a high regard for the doctors at Palm Coast Acupuncture & Wellness. “Dr. Heather and Dr. Bryan are very down to earth. They make me feel so welcomed whenever I’m at the office. They’re extremely knowledgeable, both of them. I recommend them to everybody because their practice is so unique and they team up to get their patients cured.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo courtesy of Robina Vigilante. mkb
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