A night out in heels. A long walk with the dog. A busy day at work. A day of museum-hopping. We have all had days where we come home and our feet are killing us.
For some people, this kind of pain is all too common, and it can limit their ability to participate in many activities that they enjoy.
There is no reason anyone should have to be limited by any type of foot pain. If you have chronic foot pain, and massages and medication are not working for you, or if the effects feel too short-lived, consider giving acupuncture a try.
What Causes Foot Pain?
There are many causes of foot pain, and often, they are different for everyone. The foot is also made up of many tiny bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles, so there is a variety of ways that it can be injured.
Here is a list of the most common causes of foot pain:
- Improper posture
- Bony deposition the heel (heel spurs)
- Exercising without warming up properly
- Being on your feet for a prolonged period of time, especially on a hard surface
- Being overweight
- Wearing high heels
- Flatfoot, which is scientifically known as pes planus
- Heel pronation, which happens when your foot naturally rolls inwards
- Heel supination, which happens when the foot naturally rolls outwards
- Tight calf muscles
- Cavus feet, which is also called a “high arch”
- Differences in length between your legs
Of course, there are many causes of foot pain, but these are the most common. Many of these can cause both chronic and irregular foot pain.
Some can be relieved through changes in posture, shoe wear, and other aspects of your day-to-day life, but for some people, that is not enough.
Even pain medication only works to an extent. That is when acupuncture can be a huge relief.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an old technique that comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is the practice of sticking thin needles into precise spots on the body in order to ease pain and other ailments, and has been in use for over 2,500 years in China.
Today, acupuncture is also used in the west, and is one of the most popular forms of TCM found in western countries, with a rate of users still rising here.
TCM is seen as naturalistic and somewhat spiritual, especially by westerners. In many of its practices, which include massages, herbal remedies, and tai chi to name a few, the main philosophy centers around the connection of the mind, body, and soul. TCM believes that all three are closely connected.
TCM explains that acupuncture works because each specific acupoint helps the body to balance the flow of energy and life, which is called “qi”. Each acupoint has a special connection with another point on the body.
To find which points are connected, there have been diagrams created of the body that splits it in half, then in quadrants, so there are five main groups.
This not only tells the acupuncturist what points are connected, but also allows them to put the needle in exactly the right spot.
A new type of acupuncture, called “acupressure,” does not use needles. Instead, it uses either massage therapy or little jolts of electricity to touch the acupoints.
Still, it is supposed to be a similar alternative, and may be useful for people who are uncomfortable with needles.
Acupuncture is used most commonly to treat chronic pain, but has also been used to treat physical illnesses, the effects of chemotherapy, and mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
One of the best reasons to get acupuncture treatments is that unlike medication, there are no side effects.
Pills, even some over the counter medications, can have side effects that are more serious than the pain they are supposed to treat, and invasive surgeries can cause major complications.
Acupuncture will not come with any health risks, but will provide the same or better pain relief.
Will It Hurt?
This is a frequently asked question about acupuncture, and the reason many people have qualms about trying it.
The truth is, although needles are stuck into the body, acupuncture is painless most of the time. The needles used are thin enough that they would be able to fit inside a needle used to take blood, and because of this, they are relatively painless.
In the end, the majority of the reports from people who have been treated by acupuncture say that it relieved their pain, and that the needles did not hurt at all.
How Does Acupuncture Connect To Foot Pain?
There are many ways in which an acupuncturist can treat foot pain. It depends on the style of acupuncture that they practice, as well as what they believe will work best for the patient.
In many cases, especially in patients over 50, foot pain is believed to be connected to the kidney. Because of this, the acupuncturist will most likely use points related to the kidney and bladder.
Where Can I Find An Acupuncturist?
This is a very important step that should not be overlooked. Acupuncture can be performed by anyone; technically, it could even be performed at home; but it should not be.
It is potentially dangerous when performed by an amateur who does not know what the acupoints mean or who reuses needles.
Reusing needles in acupuncture is as dangerous as reusing needles used for injections. Allowing your acupuncturist to reuse a needle is the same as allowing your doctor to reuse the needle of your flu shot.
Because of this, when looking for an acupuncturist in your area, it is vital that you do your research. Make sure that they have a license to practice, that they have positive reviews, and that their workspace is sterile.
If at any point, it does not seem clean or safe, remember that you always have the option to back out.
Remember, acupuncture is completely safe and beneficial, but only when done by the right person. Most acupuncture stories of treatments that have gone horribly wrong happened when the acupuncturist was not a professional, and the needles were not new and sterilized.
What Will Happen When I Go?
First, you will meet with the acupuncturist and tell them what you hope the treatment will help you with. After that, they will probably look you over and press on your body to see if there is anything noticeable that is causing your qi to be imbalanced.
They will make sure you are in a comfortable position, then begin to place the needles in the various acupoints.
They will regularly use two fingers to feel for the flow of energy, and watch for signs of an imbalance of energy, such as redness around the needles. This will last for a varying length of time, and then the needles will be removed.
Once the needles are removed, you will be able to go about your day normally. The acupuncturist may suggest that you drink more water as a way to continue to detoxify your body.
Will It Work?
Many people may feel skeptical about acupuncture, because it is seen as alternative medicine. However, unlike some other TCM practices, there are plenty of scientific studies that have been done that show that acupuncture is a viable tool for relieving pain.
One such study was done by Xu Xuemeng et al., where 66 patients with chronic pain were randomly divided into two groups: one received acupuncture treatments, and the other received medicinal treatments.
After six months, the two groups were asked about how well the treatments worked, and the acupuncture group had a 97 percent success rate while the control group had only a 76 percent success rate.
Another study was done on patients with chronic back pain by the University Medical Center of Berlin in 2006.
The patients were split into a control group and a group treated with acupuncture, and the acupuncture group showed a major reduction in pain.
These are only two examples of how acupuncture has proven itself to be a viable option for pain relief; there are many more.
Most governments approve its safety, and many doctors refer patients to it as a treatment for their chronic pain.
Although there have been some cases in which it did not work, acupuncture has worked for most patients overall.
Chronic foot pain can slow down your life. It makes it difficult to spend time with children and pets, makes some of your favorite activities too painful, and makes it difficult to do any job that requires standing.
You should not be forced to sit on the sidelines of your own life because of your foot pain.
If you have chronic foot pain, and none of the usual solutions are working for you, acupuncture may be the relief you are looking for.
Unlike other treatments, there are no scary side effects, and it is easy, painless, and a proven pain reliever.