How Acupuncture Factors into Foot Pain
Acupuncture has a long history of treating chronic pain, both locally and systemically, especially when conventional medicine has proven ineffective. Like their Western counterparts, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine must gather specific data before making a diagnosis. There are a variety of ways to treat foot pain depending on what part of the foot is affected whether it is a problem with the bone, tendon, ligament or muscles.
You will have to discuss your condition thoroughly with both your physician and acupuncturist before beginning acupuncture treatments. After all, there are 38 bones in the foot. Much of our ability to stand, walk and run is based on its myriad of tendons and ligaments.
The functionality of the foot requires a lot of moving parts. The types of injuries vary greatly, as do the pain symptoms. One of the main triggers of foot pain has to do with pronation, or improper foot posture. The list of triggers for foot pain also includes improper footwear, edema, neuromas, overuse, exercise and even foot problems such as bunions and hammertoes.
Pain stemming from the heel and radiating toward the toes is likely the result of plantar fasciitis. This is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It occurs when a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes becomes inflamed. A simple bunion can cause pain and swelling in a more local area.
So what can acupuncture do? According to a 1996 study published in “Acupuncture in Medicine”, acupuncture treatments on chronic foot pain were more effective than western medical treatments. The treatment was performed on plantar fasciitis. Eighty percent of the patients claimed a 50 percent or more improvement in pain reduction.
Heel pain in general is treated by needling a point located on the inside of the foot, in the depression at the base of the first metatarsal bone. Ankle pain, however, responds to needling at a point near the inner anklebone. Chronic numbness or pain is treated via a point on the sole of the foot. Several more key points are located between the toes on the topside of the foot, as well as long the outside edge of the foot. An acupuncturist basically decides which points are right for you, depending on your specific condition.
From a western medical perspective, it has been proven that acupuncture helps to release endorphins and enkephalins. Both are substances needed for pain mediation.
Acupuncture also stimulates certain neurotransmitters, which are key to pain perception. The body’s inflammatory response depends on the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands, which is triggered by the hormone ACTH. Cortisol, in return, is involved in the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline. Adrenaline helps to decrease pain perception