Acupuncture and Alpha Lipoic Acid for Foot PainSuffering through foot pain can be a trying experience. When one or both of our feet are damaged our entire world comes to a halt. The speed at which we propel ourselves quickly falls to a trickle and we become dependent on hobbling from one appointment to the next. Whether it is a toe or toes, the top (dorsal), bottom (plantar), Achilles tendon, ankle (malleolus) or other location that is afflicted, conventional medicine first targets the pain with synthetic drugs and then may venture into recommended surgery. However, several studies here show how acupuncture may be an alternative to drugs and surgery for plantar fasciitis and peripheral neuropathy two common, painful foot conditions. In turn, research shows that the addition of naturopathic medicine, such as the nutraceutical supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid, may be capable in complimenting acupuncture to assist the system in boosting healing as well as preventative care.

The Foot
Similar to the hand, the foot is made up of twenty-six bones that meticulously fit into one another like a puzzle. They are held together by an array of ligaments, tendons and muscles to keep everything in place, protected and mobile. Susceptibility to injury is high when it comes to the feet as they are at the forefront of our everyday use.

One common condition is called plantar fasciitis (PF). The plantar fascia is fibrous tissue that acts as a sturdy sheath that covers the bottom of the foot supporting the arch. This tissue can be stretched and inflamed due to such things as overuse, trauma or fallen arches resulting in minor to extreme pain when bearing weight or performing dorsiflexion, raising the foot toward the shin.

Peripheral neuropathy (PN) is another affliction that can attack many locations in the body especially the feet which can especially be a common location amongst those suffering from diabetes. It occurs when something causes a distortion in the communication between the brain and the location afflicted. The feet may experience sharp, tingling, electrical pain often between the toes or along the plantar surface.

Acupuncture: Study Results for Plantar Fasciitis and Peripheral Neuropathy
Several studies that used acupuncture for plantar fasciitis and peripheral neuropathy showed significant improvement after a protocol of treatments.

  • The orthopedics department of a Bedford, England hospital participated in a British Study that concentrated on chronic heel pain unresponsive to Western treatments. It concluded: “Our study demonstrates that acupuncture is effective in treating patients with chronic heel pain due to plantar fasciitis and that the addition of trigger point acupuncture in poor or non-responders may be useful.”
  • A Greek study concentrated on amateur athletes that all suffered from heel pain related to a traumatized, overuse of the fasciitis. It was entitled, “Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis in Recreational Athletes: Two Different Therapeutic Protocols” and consisted of the following conclusion, “Acupuncture should be considered as a major therapeutic instrument for the decrease of heel pain in plantar fasciitis (PF) . . . Scores for pain and mobility/function were significantly smaller [indicating improvement] in the acupuncture group after two months of treatment.”
  • The Heidelberg School of Chinese Medicine, Heidelberg, Germany conducted a study to determine how acupuncture can alleviate the often electric, burning symptoms associated with PN. One hundred and ninety two potential study subjects were screened over the course of a year and 47 met the criteria. There was an impressive 76% improvement of the overall acupuncture group and the study concluded that, “The data suggest that there is a positive effect of acupuncture on PN of undefined etiology as measured by objective parameters”.

Points that have resulted in relieving PF and PN symptoms include Spleen (SP4) located on the inside (medial) aspect of the foot in the depression at the base of the first metatarsal bone; SP5 near the inner ankle bone (medial malleolus); Kidney (K1) in the center of the plantar; Pericardium (P7) between the the tendons of the m. palmaris longus and m. flexor carpi radialis on the palmer side of the body in the transverse crease of the wrist (P7 has a unique correlation with the ankle and foot given their similar anatomy).

Alpha-Lipoic Acid for PN
There are interesting studies regarding alpha-lipoic acid, a naturally occurring fatty acid which is responsible for turning blood sugar into energy, acting as an anti-oxidant and increasing the formation of glutathione, another anti-oxidant. It has been found that taking this acid in supplemental form under the strict guidance of a naturopathic doctor may be instrumental in relieving peripheral neuropathy. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports, “In several studies, alpha-lipoic acid appears to help lower blood sugar levels. Its ability to kill free radicals may help people with peripheral neuropathy, who have pain, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness in arms and legs from nerve damage,” Because of its unique ability to restore vitamin levels such as vitamin C and E, alpha-lipoic acid helps reverse cell damage which in turn can improve neuron conductivity and overall function. Unlike other antioxidant supplements that work in either water or fatty tissue, alpha-lipoic acid penetrates both mediums giving it a full spectrum capability beyond other supplements.

The use of acupuncture for PF and PN can be an excellent choice before considering more invasive procedures. The treatments are painlessly embraced by the body allowing for a natural manipulation of stagnant or stuck energy that could otherwise be mired by conventional use. In addition, supplemental additions such as alpha-lipoic acid can add to the treatment for PN along with an acupuncture protocol. Seeking out a licensed acupuncturist and naturopathic doctor is essential for receiving the proper treatment that just may be paramount for your healing path. At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you. In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health. To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or click here to schedule an online appointment.

*Please CLICK HERE to see a current list of In-Network Insurance Companies for Acupuncture that we participate with as well as insurance companies that commonly have Out-of-Network benefits. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.

One Response to “Walking on Pins and Needles – Plantar Fasciitis and Peripheral Neuropathy – Acupuncture and Alpha Lipoic Acid for Foot Pain”

  1. Bob Raide says:

    I have a strange sensation on the bottoms of both feet. It feels like the skin on the bottoms of my feet is tightening or shrinking. My reflexes appear normal and the bottoms of my feet are sensitive but not overly sensitive-normal sensitivity. For the forgoing symtoms I cannot diagnose if it’s PN or PF. It has been like this for a couple of years now and I am 69.

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