Four acupuncture patients sleeping under red blankets in four recliners lined up against a wall lined with plants.

Foot pain

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

by Stef Cordes & Lisa Baird

Feet are complex, and it’s easy to take the hard work our feet do for granted, unless they hurt. There are 38 bones in the human foot as well as numerous joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons, all of which could potentially be injured and/or cause pain because they carry our entire weight (and probably weren’t designed to walk on concrete).

We see a lot of people who come to us for foot pain relief due to various causes, including tight achilles tendons and calves, irritation of the sciatic nerve (which runs all the way from the hip to the foot), arthritis, gout, Morton’s neuroma, overwork, old injuries that never healed, shoes that cause problems, and plantar fasciitis. The worse your pain is, the more frequently we’ll recommend treatment to work at reducing the pain faster.

There is a flat band of tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes called the plantar fascia, which supports the arch of the foot. Repetitive strain of this ligament can cause tiny tears, which can cause swelling, inflammation, and a stabbing pain in the heel. Because plantar fasciitis most often occurs due to injuries that have happened over time (often called “repetitive strains”), it can take awhile to treat, but we do see a lot of people get significant relief from plantar fasciitis with regular acupuncture treatments.

Achilles tendonitis (irritation and inflammation of the band connecting the calf muscle to the heel) is often caused by stress from overuse and can be related to tight calves. We have seen may people hobble in after running too fast or too far, or after an intense hiking trip. In these cases we treat the calves, the achilles, and the feet, and we see a lot of people get relief with acupuncture for the pain and stiffness associated with achilles tendonitis.

Morton’s Neuroma is a condition affecting the ball of the foot, generally between the 3rd and 4th toes. It is caused by an irritation or injury to one of the nerves running to the foot, leading to a benign (non-cancerous) grown of the tissue around the nerve. It can cause a sharp burning pain, sometimes radiating to the toes. Acupuncture can be a great tool to reduce the pain and inflammation of Morton’s Neuroma and in some cases maintenance treatments are required to keep the pain at bay.We’ve seen great results treating this condition. Maintenance treatments are sometimes needed.

Arthritis is a term used to describe an inflammation of the joints. With so many bones and joints in the feet, there are a lot of potential places for arthritic pain, but the most common are the toes and ankles. Over time  inflamed tissue can cause a decrease in joint cushioning and support, reducing mobility and making it hard to walk. We’ve seen acupuncture help with all kinds of arthritic pain, including arthritis-related aches, pains, and stiffness in the feet.

A reminder: we use distal acupuncture, instead of needling into the pain, so you don’t have to  worry about needles inserted into your already tender feet—that’s not our style at Guelph Community Acupuncture.

If you have questions about how community acupuncture can get you back on your feet, please get in touch.

P.S. It’s worth noting that while weight loss is commonly recommended for people with foot pain, we’ve seen excellent results treating foot pain in many, many patients, regardless of their size. For this reason, we never assume that someone’s weight is the cause of  their pain.

Four acupuncture patients sleeping under red blankets in four recliners lined up against a wall lined with plants.

photo by Vanessa Tignanelli

 

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