Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice believed to have healing effects. Eastern medicine places a high focus on the life energy attached to a person. It is believed that this energy flows through a person’s body, promoting wellness. If something goes wrong and this energy becomes blocked or misdirected, pain or illness may result. Many elements of eastern medicine, including acupuncture, are based on restoring a healthy flow of life energy. Acupuncture is believed to achieve this by the precise insertion of needles into a patient’s skin. Some practitioners use heat, pressure, or mild electrical current alongside the needles.
Acupuncture is believed to be beneficial in a wide variety of conditions affecting almost every part of the body. The ankle is not exempt from this. Some ankle conditions that practitioners believe may be helped by acupuncture include:
Plantar Fasciitis – This is a common cause of heel and Achilles’ Tendon pain. The plantar fascia is the tissue on the sole of the foot, between the skin and the muscles. When a patient stretched the top of their foot, pointing the toes, the plantar fascia contracts. If a patient’s plantar fascia is contracted for a long period of time, such as while sleeping at night, pain is experienced when it is stretched back out. If this contraction happens frequently enough, the plantar fascia starts chronically swelling. This pain and swelling tends to reduce after the patient has been up and walking around for a while. Long time swelling of the plantar fascia may place undue pressure on the heel bone, however, which may lead to bone spurs and damage to the Achilles’ Tendon.
Arthritis – This is a blanket term that simply means swelling of a joint. There are three types of arthritis that may affect the ankle or foot: Osteoarthritis (usually the result of wear and tear or overuse), rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks otherwise healthy joints), and post-traumatic arthritis. Pain, tenderness, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty walking may accompany any of these forms.
Gout – This is a buildup of uric acid in a joint, most commonly the big toe. This condition is extremely painful, and is often brought on by certain dietary trends.
Sprained Ankles – This is a common injury that occurs when the patient twists the ligaments in his/her ankle, causing pain, swelling, and difficulty placing weight on the affected ankle.
When a patient seeks acupuncture treatment for ankle or foot pain, the practitioner typically begins by determining the location of pain. This allows the practitioner to determine the meridians, or energy channels, that require attention. Many patients experience great relief from acupuncture. However it is important to note that, since everybody’s body is different, not everybody will respond to acupuncture in the same way. While it is generally regarded as safe, some patients may not experience the benefits that others do.