When rest, icing and stretching haven’t worked…when the Strassburg sock, kinesiotaping and leukotaping haven’t worked…when footbeds, orthotics and new shoes haven’t worked…it’s time for acupuncture and blood-letting.
Today, I went back to the Chinese Medicine doctor to address the persistent plantar fasciitis/heel spur in my left foot. I had done some treatment last fall for similar problems in my right foot. Today’s treatment was pretty intense. Half a dozen thin acupuncture needles inserted into various meridians in my left knee, calf and ankle. I barely feel them when they go in. The needles are manipulated and when they hit the right spot, it feels like a sharp tingle along the nerve path, similar to how it feels when you bang your elbow. These stay in for an hour and are adjusted every 10 or 15 minutes.
Then there’s the blood-letting. This is a little tougher. A lancet needle is used to pierce the skin in several spots. The lancet feels like a bee sting. Each time it pierces the skin. Five or six times on a site. There were four sites done on my heel and ankle. A vacuum cup is then used to pull the “dark” blood out. Dark blood indicates stagnation and injury. Removing it improves circulation and promotes healing. It’s only slightly less painful than the injury it’s trying to heal, but it works well on areas that normally don’t get a lot a blood flow.
I started with acupuncture seven years ago because of persistent earaches. The Western medicine diagnosis was “most likely a tumor growing on your auditory nerve.” After an MRI and several sleepless weeks, it wasn’t. The follow-up treatment was a prescription for oxycotin. I passed on that and tried acupuncture instead. The source of the earaches was traced to muscle tension in my back. A few weeks of treatment cleared it up. It hasn’t come back since.
I’ve been using acupuncture since then to manage sports-related injuries and muscle problems. A few years ago I tweaked my back during a ski accident. I could barely walk when I got to the acupuncturist’s. An hour later, I was mobile again. It took several weeks of intense treatment to reduce the back spasms and promote the healing. It also took being more careful with building and maintaining core strength to make sure it didn’t come back. Injury treatment is no substitute for injury prevention.
Acupuncture and blood letting isn’t for everyone but it works for me. Part of the reason acupuncture works, I believe, is that it forces you to imagine the pain going away. It’s as much mental as physical. The body and mind are treated together. One helps to heal the other.