Studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in relieving certain types of foot pain. A study published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine in 1996 found acupuncture to be effective in relieving otherwise unresponsive chronic foot pain. 

A 1999 study, meanwhile, found that electrical stimulation of acupoints on the feet could increase blood flow to the foot and lower leg. There have also been anecdotal reports of individual acupuncturists using different techniques to relieve pain associated with the ankle, heel, and ball of the foot.

What are the different kinds of ankle and foot pain treated by acupuncture?

Plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is pain in the sole of the foot, where a thick band of tissue, the plantar fascia, runs from your heel bone to your toes. The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis causes a stabbing pain in the sole of the foot. The pain from plantar fasciitis is generally worst when you first get out of the bed in the morning. The pain you feel first thing in the morning likely improves after walking around a bit. This is because the plantar fascia softens up. Unfortunately, the pain usually returns after long periods of inactivity. Plantar fasciitis is common in runners, and is an unfortunate side effect of barefoot shoes. People who are overweight and pregnant women are also at risk of developing plantar fasciitis.

There are three kinds of arthritis that affects the foot and ankle: Osteoarthritis (known as “wear and tear” arthritis), rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease), and post-traumatic arthritis. The most common sites of foot and ankle arthritis are the ankle, the hindfoot, the midfoot and the joint of the first toe. Symptoms include pain, tenderness, swelling, stiffness and restricted movement, and difficulty walking.

Morton’s neuroma
Morton’s neuroma causes a pain in the foot, specifically the ball of the foot. Morton’s neuroma often appears between the third and fourth toes. Morton’s neuroma is a thickening of the covering around one of the nerves in the toes. Morton’s neuroma is likely caused by irritation, injury or pressure to the nerve. People describe the discomfort of Morton’s neuroma as the feeling of standing on a fold in their sock. Morton’s neuroma can also cause sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot. In some cases, your toes may also burn or feel numb.

Gout is a kind of arthritis in which urate crystals form in your joints. This causes excruciating pain. Urate crystals form when there are high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is made from the breakdown of purines. Purines occur naturally in certain foods, such as organ meats, anchovies, herring, asparagus and mushrooms. Gout attacks are sudden and the pain is severe. The affected joints will be red and tender. The most commonly affected joint is the one at the base of the big toe. Men develop gout more often than women, but risk of developing gout in women increases after menopause. Most patients report an acute gout attack waking them in middle of the night with a burning sensation in the big toe. During a gout attack, it is difficult to put weight on the affected foot.

Ankle sprainAn ankle sprain is a common injury. An ankle can be sprained sprained when you twist or turn your ankle in an odd way, thereby stretching the ligaments that hold your ankle together. In extreme cases, the ligaments can even be torn. Most sprained ankles are injuries to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. 

Heel spur and bone spurA bone spur is a tiny growth of bone that grows along the edges of bones. A bone spur is also called an osteophyte. Bone spurs can occur in spine or in joints. Bone spurs are associated with wear in tear, so areas that are under a lot of stress are likely affected. For this reason, the heel is also a common site of bone spur development, called a heel spur. Most bone spurs are asymptomatic, so go unnoticed before they grow to a size that will cause pain.

Shin splints
Shin splints a common name for pain that occurs along the shinbone (tibia). People feel the pain of shin splints during physical activities, like running. They are caused by too much force being exerted on your shinbone and the connective tissues between the muscles and the tibia. Shin splints are common in runners and athletes playing sports that involve running, like basketball, soccer or tennis.

Achilles tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the tendon that attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone. Achilles tendinitis occurs in runners and other running-intensive sports. Achilles tendinitis is caused by overuse, vigorous exercise, jumping, and other movements that strain the tendon and calf muscles. Serious cases of Achilles tendinitis can end in tendon rupture, which requires surgery to be repaired.

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