Acupuncture for Foot Pain

Acupuncture for Foot Pain

            Acupuncture works for the treatment of foot pain by decreasing inflammation through several pathways, and promoting the release of neurotransmitters to regulate the foot pain. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, it was found that 77% of Americans say they have experienced foot pain, but only a third of them would seek the care of a podiatrist. It is a condition that many times goes untreated, unless the patient has immense trouble walking.

Foot Pain

            The challenge with foot pain is that it can be difficult to determine how it can be fixed, and where and why it is happening. This is because it is one of the most complex parts of the body containing 38 bones connected by multiple ligaments, joints, muscles, and tendons, and is used on a constant basis. Although the most common causes of foot pain are improper foot function, poor posture, and abnormal pronation, there are various causes to chronic foot pain affecting the heels, toes, tendons, joints, nerves, and tendons in the feet.

Foot Pain Causes from Conditions:

  • Plantar Fasciitis

    • Inflammation of the thick band of connective tissue spanning the sole of the foot known as the plantar fascia. The patient will usually say pain is worse in the morning, and gets better once they get moving even though a dull pain persists.

  • Morton’s Neuroma

    • A benign tumor of the nerve. Morton’s Neuroma more specifically refers to a small bundle of nerves between the toes, and causes a sharp and/or burning pain in the ball of the foot.

  • Heel Spurs

    • Pain is described as a sharp pain in the heel when first standing up in the morning, and a dull ache throughout the day.

  • Bunions

    • Sore or burning pain over the joint in the big toe. There will be swelling, stiffness, and redness in the area as well; symptoms becoming worse over time as the bunion becomes bigger.

  • Arthritis

    • Pain and stiffness from inflammation in the bones of the feet.

  • Hammer Toe

    • Pain is felt the affected toe is pressed, and also may affect the bottom of the hammer toe at the ball of the foot.

  • Corns and Calluses

    • These are not typically painful unless they are split open, but the core of a corn tends to be painful and sensitive to the touch.

  • Ingrown Toenails

    • Pain from the toenail growing into the surrounding skin, and shows red or swollen skin near the nail.

  • Osteoarthritis

    • Pain is most often found in the big toe joint, the ankle joint, and the subtalar joint. It is usually described as feeling stiff or swollen, painful, and some describe a grinding or vibrating sound when moving the joint.

  • Achilles Tendonitis

    • Inflammation or irritation of the Achilles tendon causing a burning or aching pain with activity.

  • Metatarsalgia

    • Pain developed in the ligaments which connect the metatarsal bones not offering enough support. Pain is found in the ball of the foot.

  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

    • Pain from this condition is usually described as numb, burning, or tingling radiating from the inside of the ankle and into the sole and arch.

  • Gout

    • Pain, redness, and swelling most often in the big toe

  • Medications

    • Over the counter and prescription

  • Fallen Arches (Flat Feet)

    • Those who have flat feet need to obtain special shoes to be sure the foot is properly supported to decrease foot pain.

  • Diabetes

    • Pain in the legs and feet from nerve damage

Lifestyle Causes:

  • Unsupportive Footwear

  • High-Impact Sports and/or Exercise

  • Fractures in or around the foot
There are a multitude of conditions in the foot and/or ankle as well as certain lifestyle choices that can cause chronic foot pain, but the ones above are the most common. Most often in western medicine, foot pain is treated with over the counter NSAIDS, rest and elevation of the foot, corrective footwear, apply ice to the affected area, or, if necessary, surgery.

Acupuncture for Foot Pain

            Acupuncture treatment is beneficial for any type of chronic pain, but it is an amazing treatment option for the foot. Since it is not a big joint like the knee or rotator cuff, many western medicine treatments don’t always make a difference or rectify the issue. Strategic acupuncture points allow the acupuncture provider to treat the pain from various angles getting to the root of the issue instead of masking the pain. Acupuncture treatment will help with tissue healing in the foot triggering the release of cells which contribute to the formation of connective tissue that secrete collagen known as fibroblasts.

Acupuncture Points for Foot Pain:

  • KD2 – often used for pain at the medial aspect of the foot

  • UB62 – often used for plantar fasciitis

  • KD6 – often used for plantar fasciitis

  • LV4 – often used for ankle pain

  • SP6 – used for improving blood circulation in the feet

  • GB34 – used for instep pain

  • SP3 – used for big toe bunions

  • UB61 – local point used for sore feet from sports or standing for long periods of time

  • PC7 – often used for plantar fasciitis
Like with many conditions and acupuncture, there are a multitude of acupuncture point combinations which can be beneficial for foot pain and is dependent on the individual which route is taken.
Research also is in favor of acupuncture treatment for foot pain. Multiple studies in recent years have shown the benefits and treatment options for foot pain.

Research on Acupuncture for Foot Pain:

There is more research that needs to be done with acupuncture for foot pain, but these studies are positive in the benefits of acupuncture treatment for various types of foot pain.

Foot Pain & Acupuncture

            Foot pain is a very common issue, especially among those who are older, overweight, or who have had injuries. At some point, everyone has problems with their feet because they are used every day for life, and take up a quarter of the bones in our bodies. Acupuncture is becoming an accepted and recommended treatment modality for foot pain. Working together with our western medicine colleagues, we can help that many more people to a better quality of life free from foot pain.  

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