Acupuncture for foot pain
May 29, 2015 6:51 PM   Subscribe

Have you had any success treating foot pain with acupuncture? Details inside.

I started running late last year and got up with a sore right foot about five months later. After time and the usual r/i/c/e didn't solve the problem, I went to a podiatrist. He took an x-ray and confirmed that there was no fracture. His guess was sesamoiditis (ball of the foot). While a nice guy, he was kind of a wet noodle, and didn't have much to offer other than "rest some more."

After another month and a half without exercise other than swimming, the pain isn't any better, and my other foot is starting to get sore, presumably out of peer pressure.

I've considered finding another podiatrist, though the answer will probably end up being some expensive orthotics for my shoes. But I've enjoyed acupuncture in the past, so I wondered if anybody has found that effective in dealing with foot pain.
posted by chimpsonfilm to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been amazed at the results from acupuncture. I started going last year after numbness in my foot from biking and have since been using it to treat some other persistent pain issues in my hips/thighs/glutes. If you trust your acupuncturist to guide you in the right way, ask if it's treatable and their recommended time frame for visits to get a better idea.
posted by icaicaer at 6:56 PM on May 29, 2015

I have a childhood foot injury that caused numbness/occasional pain and acupuncture was very helpful. It didn't completely resolve the whole issue but it did a heck of a lot more than Western medicine ever did. I'd say it's worth a shot, there's really no downsides.
posted by fox problems at 7:06 PM on May 29, 2015

I had symptoms similar to you when I ran cross country in high school. It turned out to be a fractured sesamoid. I tried rest, acupuncture, orthotics, cortisone injections and nothing worked. I ended up having it removed, which was incredibly painful, but in the long run it has been much better. 20 years later I've taken up running again and it doesn't bother me.
posted by jshort at 7:15 PM on May 29, 2015

Best answer: Acupuncture did absolutely nothing for my specific foot problem (plantar fasciitis, which is not your problem, I know). What did work was massage by a physiotherapist, home exercises, my medieval torture sock, and specialized treatment like shock wave therapy applied by a physiotherapist. I use expensive orthotics, too, but it's the other stuff that moved the needle.

The crucial thing for me was that after I got a diagnosis from a doctor I went to a physiotherapist who could do further assessment and suggest treatment options. If you have insurance that could cover PT, you probably will have to go back to that doctor or another one (somewhat more alert and on the ball) to get another workup and a prescription / referral to a good PT clinic. Who knows, the PT may recommend and use acupuncture and it may work, but there may be other options that are much more effective.

Good luck!
posted by maudlin at 7:18 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes, electroacupuncture, delivered by a physiotherapist, helped relieve some chronic pain, alongside orthotics (from a podiatrist - and the orthotics were really worthwhile). But I agree with maudlin, you need the care that's appropriate for your problem.

The annoying thing about the pain industry (other than the fact that it's private, even in Canada) is that the different specialists aren't always coordinated, and people just see who they feel like, and those specialists have different, sometimes opposed approaches to treatment. Podiatrists will offer orthotics, a lot of physios will hate that idea, a surgeon will be looking for fixable things. GPs are limited in MSK issues. And all of them can diagnose.

IMO, sports medicine specialists are the people to see (at least where I am). They can order imaging and know better than others what to ask for*. Then they can refer you on to someone else for therapy (or refinement of the diagnosis - ime, good physiotherapists can be amazing at making clinical diagnoses, when others just rely on imaging reports. You might need both, though.)

*Because even imaging can miss a lot of soft tissue problems if the right views aren't ordered, that can happen with someone who's not a specialist. And, radiology is as much art as it is science, things can get missed that way, too.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:41 PM on May 29, 2015

Also, it may be worth looking in to a chiropractor that specializes in feet, I've heard huge success stories from it. It may be hard to find unless you're in a metro area
posted by Kestrelxo at 11:16 PM on May 29, 2015

Have been struggling with plantar fasciitis for last 6 months. Acupuncture is the only thing I've tried which has had any noticeable possible benefits. Really dulls the pain. And now the PF is almost gone. Worth trying for sure
posted by stevedawg at 2:05 AM on May 30, 2015

For me orthotics did the trick, acupuncture nothing.
posted by juiceCake at 8:10 AM on May 30, 2015

Ballet dancers swear by it.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:45 AM on May 30, 2015

Best answer: I spent the better part of a decade -- from my mid 20s to mid 30s -- with chronic, excruciating achilles tendon nodes that no treatment, in Canada or Australia, improved. They tried pretty much everything (LASERZ GUYZ!), to no avail.

At my wife's behest, I tried acupuncture here in Korea (with electrical stim, and some mystery Chinese-herbal stuff), and it cleared up within a couple of months, and has not recurred in the 15 years since.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:37 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone!
posted by chimpsonfilm at 9:10 PM on June 3, 2015

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