Acupuncture and Foot Pain

 19th August 2015

When you think about the complexity of the foot with its 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 tendons, there is no wonder that foot pain is such a common condition. The problem is compounded by the fact that it’s also hard for the foot to heal if we’re walking around on it all day.

Acupuncture treats plantar fasciitis and many other forms of foot pain. This includes neuromas and nerve impingement numbness and pain referred from the low back, knees, ankles, and local regions within the foot.

Plantar Fasciitis: A Common Problem

I was surprised to read that an estimated 1 in 10 people struggle with plantar fasciitis. This article in the Telegraph is a good one which I’m sure rings a bell with many sufferers.

Telegraph article: Plantar Fasciitis

The author comes to the conclusion that acupuncture is a key part of the package of treatment that enables her to stay on her feet. Lucky that Simon’s treatments don’t set his patients back the whopping £115.00 that acupuncturists charge in the Knightsbridge Clinic!

About Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fascitis is defined as a painful inflammatory disorder of the plantar fascia of the foot. Long term, this can lead to degenerative changes within the structure 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.

The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue on the bottom of the foot which originates near the calcaneus bone, also referred to as the heel bone. The band extends through the sole of the foot towards the toes. I have found that acupuncture provides relief from pain, restores flexibility, and prevent structural deterioration of the feet.

Other Forms Of Foot Pain

Dylan Stein Dylan Stein gives a good summary of the other common forms of foot pain that I also come across regularly:


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 sprain

An 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 spur

A 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.

How Acupuncture Works To Alleviate Foot Pain

The acupuncture reduces local inflammation and enhances blood circulation in the feet. In addition, acupuncture has a homeostatic effect by balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic nerve signals in the feet. In this way, the acupuncture sends a signal to the brain to stop inflammation and swelling and to begin the recuperation process.