Acupuncture can be effective for many types of sports injuries and rehabilitation of gait related disorders. One such study can be found here.
The effect of needling is though to be 3 fold: local, segmental and cortical.
The local effect of needling occurs at the site of the needle insertion. Local tissue damage causes cytokines to be released and this stimulates both the inflammatory and healing process, as well as increasing local circulation.
The segmental affect is thought to be at the spinal cord level (the dermatome or sclerotome) where inhibition of pain impulses occur (pre synaptic inhibition for you neuro nerds out there)
The cortical or “long loop” effect is thought to be due to activation of higher brain centers which cause descending inhibition of pain and activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (which appears to be one of the reasons acupuncture can be effective for colds and other problems).
You can view many of our posts on pain and its physiology here to gain a better understanding of the pain pathway and pain modulation.
The Gait Guys: yes, sometimes we are a pain, but we offer solutions to help and give you the research to back it up