Foot Pain

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23 03, 2012

Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are injuries that occur in athletic activities. Some sports injuries result from accidents; others are due to poor training practices, improper equipment, lack of conditioning, or insufficient warm up and stretching. Many sports injuries can be due to overuse of a part of the body when participating in an activity. Other types of injuries can be caused by hard contact with something. Sports injuries typically involve the musculoskeletal system, which includes the muscles, bones, and associated tissues like cartilage.

Common sports injuries include:

  • Sprains are a stretch or tear of a ligament, causing tenderness, pain, bruising, swelling and inflammation.
  • Strains are a twist, pull, or tear of a muscle or tendon, causing pain, muscle spasms, and weakness. 
  • Knee injuries are very common and can range from mild to severe, from pain or tenderness at the front or side of the knee close to the knee cap, tendinitis, and pain in the iliotibial band (the outer side of the knee), to bone bruises or damage to the knee cartilage or ligaments. 
  • Shin splints are another common sports injury involving pain along the tibia or shin bone, typically seen in runners. 
  • Achilles tendon injuries can occur when there is tendinitis already present in the tendon or when a stretch, tear or irritation happens to the tendon. 
  • More severe can be stress fractures, which occur from repeated stress to a bone over time, most often occurring in the legs or feet, and acute fractures, that can occur from a quick, one-time injury to the bone. 
  • Dislocations occur when the two bones that come together to form a joint become separated. Dislocations a usually caused by contact sports or high-impact sports.

The great news is that acupuncture can be of benefit to all types of sports injuries. It is of course always best to treat an injury in the acute stage or as soon after an injury occurs as possible, in order to assist the body in healing quickly and fully. Early treatment also helps to prevent the possibility of long-term or chronic problems with the injury down the road due to improper healing. However, acupuncture is also very beneficial in any stage of healing and can also be of great help to old, lingering injuries or injuries that did not properly heal. Acupuncture taps into the body’s own resources to encourage the healing process and the body’s optimal functioning. With sports injuries this can mean reduced inflammation, increased circulation, reduced muscle tension, and of course, pain relief. Treating sports injuries, whether old or new, can help the body to regain former functioning and health levels and prevent more long-term consequences such as reduced mobility, stiffness, weakness, or arthritis.

Our bodies have amazing abilities to self-regulate and repair themselves. In any injury the body attempts to minimize, repair and overcome the damage to its normal functions and in many cases, given adequate rest and support, our bodies are able to recover successfully. However, in cases where the body isn’t able to correct a problem on its own, or in cases where long-term damage can occur if left untreated, acupuncture is a promising treatment that helps bolster the body’s healing abilities so that we can return to our normal, healthy selves.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com. 

 

3 03, 2012

Soleus and Achilles Tendon

I would like to thank you for the relief you have given me. I suffered a calf, Soleus and Achilles tendon injury as a result of my training for the Half Iron. One of my training partners said that he had experienced the same injury and it took him a year to recover.

When I came to see you I expected that I would have a long and arduous road back to training. Truthfully, I thought that I could scrap my aspirations of a June Half Iron.

Well, with two treatments and a few for good measure I can tell you I am back in the race and feeling confident that I will compete (might be participate). It is a tremendous relief from a pain and emotional point of view.

I can’t thank you enough for your support.

-Desmond Regier

Trade Exchange Canada

Kelowna, BC

www.tectrade.ca

6 08, 2011

Muscle Cramps

A muscle cramp is a sudden and involuntary spasm or contraction of one or more of the muscles in the body, causing a sudden, sharp muscle pain. You may be able to feel or see a hard lump of muscle tissue beneath the skin. Muscle cramps often occur in the legs. Nocturnal cramps that occur in the calf muscles or toes during sleep are also common. Though generally harmless, muscle cramps can make it temporarily impossible to use the affected muscle.

Muscle cramps can be caused by overuse of a muscle, such as long periods of exercise or physical labor, particularly in hot weather. They may also be caused by dehydration, muscle strain, or holding a position for a prolonged period of time. In many cases the cause of a muscle cramp isn’t known. In other cases, they may be caused by certain medications or related to an underlying medical condition such as arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) in the arteries that deliver blood to the legs, causing leg or foot cramps while exercising; compression of the nerves in the spine (lumbar stenosis); or mineral depletion such as a shortage of potassium, calcium, or magnesium due to diet or medications. Muscle cramps can also be due to certain conditions such as kidney, thyroid, nerve, or hormone disorders, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and anemia.

Muscle cramps usually disappear on their own and can be treated with self-care measures such as stretching and massaging the muscle and applying warmth to it. However, for some people, muscle cramps can be an ongoing problem, and can be very difficult to live with, interfering with sleep or daily routines.

Acupuncture is an effective option for relieving and resolving muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are typically a sign that there is a blockage of blood and energy flowing to an area of the body. When this happens, it causes that area to become weak and less able to perform properly, making the area more vulnerable to injury, over-fatigue, and pain. In addition, in Chinese medicine (TCM), the liver and gallbladder meridians are responsible for nourishing the tendons and ligaments of the body. If there is an imbalance in these organs or if they are not functioning properly, muscle cramps can be one of the resulting symptoms. Acupuncture treatment for muscle cramps will typically involve restoring the liver energy flow and treating any problems with the way that it is functioning. By addressing the underlying health conditions or imbalances that may be contributing to the occurrence of muscle cramps, we can help to restore health with the goal of preventing muscle cramps from occurring again in the future.

Acupuncture can help to increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasms, and relax the body, and the results are usually quite immediate. This makes it a very effective option for treating muscle cramps. With continued treatments, acupuncture can help to improve the body’s health and functioning, so that it is better able to perform and less prone to muscle cramps. In this way it offers not only relief but also resolution of the problem. Whether you are an athlete looking to achieve top performance, or whether you are dealing with a chronic condition and living with muscle cramps as a result, acupuncture can offer relief and help you get back to your daily routine.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

25 02, 2011

Morton’s Neuroma / Metatarsalgia

Morton's neuroma, also called metatarsalgia, is a painful swelling of one of the nerves leading to the toes, causing pain in the ball of the foot. It most commonly occurs between the third and fourth toes. Morton's neuroma may cause the feeling of a pebble in your shoe. Other symptoms may be a sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot and tingling, numbness, stinging or burning in the toes.

Doctors don't understand exactly what causes Morton's neuroma. The condition is believed to be a response to irritation, injury or pressure to one of the nerves that lead to the toes. The body responds to the injury or irritation with the growth of thickened nerve tissue (neuroma). Factors that contribute to Morton’s neuroma include high-impact sports, foot deformities, and choice of footwear, especially high heels or tight shoes (that might be required in certain sports) that put pressure on the toes.

Morton's neuroma may be relieved or resolved by changing footwear or using arch supports or foot pads to help reduce pressure on the nerve and modifying or taking a break from activities that cause stress to the foot. Physiotherapy may also be recommended. In more severe cases, corticosteroid injections or surgery may be recommended.

However, in many cases morton’s neuroma does not resolve on its own and this is where acupuncture can help. Acupuncture can be of great assistance because of the way in which it supports the body's healing processes. By reducing inflammation and increasing circulation to the foot as well as influencing the body’s healing mechanisms, acupuncture helps to shorten recovery time and encourages a more complete recovery.

In Chinese medicine (TCM), pain is seen as a blockage of the body’s circulation of qi-energy and blood, which effectively starves the area of necessary nutrients. When we continue to put our regular demands on the foot and it is unable to properly perform its functions, it becomes vulnerable to pain and injury. Acupuncture helps to remove the blockages so that qi-energy and blood can flow properly again, thus strengthening the area and promoting healthier functioning.

Sometimes there are underlying imbalances or contributing lifestyle factors which may also come into play with pain conditions. Usually the location of the pain will point towards these factors and the meridians affected. In the case of Morton’s neuroma, the foot has all of the meridians passing through it so an imbalance with any of these meridians, but especially the stomach meridian, may also contribute to weakness to this area of the foot. What would cause a meridian imbalance? Well, these can be factors such as our genetics and our lifestyle, whether it be our occupation, the exercise or sports we choose, our response to stress, how much sleep we get, our emotions, or our nutrition and diet. Over time, our habits and patterns can lead to corresponding patterns of imbalance within our bodies- which is why many of our health symptoms start to appear in middle age. By also addressing these underlying factors, we can further strengthen the foot and improve overall health, with the goal of preventing future reoccurrence.

In practice, I have seen acupuncture yield great results for Morton’s neuroma. This condition can be particularly challenging for people to overcome, simply because we require our feet for so much of what we do in daily life. However, acupuncture can usually give results fairly quickly, and with continued treatments can help to resolve the condition, eventually allowing many people to return to their former activities.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna.

3 01, 2011

Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the large band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Achilles tendinitis is caused by repetitive or intense strain on the Achilles tendon. It is most often caused by a sport-related injury that involves overuse, intense exercise, jumping, or other activities that strain the tendon and calf muscles. It can also be caused by exercising without warming up properly, poor flexibility of the calf muscles, or starting a new exercise regimen after a long period of little or no exercise.

Achilles tendinitis usually causes pain that develops and worsens gradually over time. Symptoms can be a mild ache or pain at the back of the leg and above the heel after exercise, more severe pain with prolonged or intense exercise, tenderness or stiffness (particularly in the morning) that may improve with mild activity, mild swelling or a "bump" on the Achilles tendon, a crackling or creaking sound when you touch or move the Achilles tendon, and weakness or sluggishness in the lower leg.

Most cases of Achilles tendinitis are treated with simple at-home care, such as engaging in less strenuous exercise or taking a break from a regular exercise routine, and ice, compression and elevation in the acute stages. Stretching and exercises are important for recovery and for preventing recurring problems. If Achilles tendinitis continues to be a problem, treatment may be anti-inflammatory medications for pain and in more severe cases, a cortisone injection or even surgery. If left untreated, Achilles tendinitis can become a chronic problem, and can lead to more complicated problems such as tendinosis, (a weakening of the tendon that makes it more vulnerable to severe damage) or a tear or rupture in the tendon (a painful injury that usually requires surgery to repair the damaged tendon).

Acupuncture is a great option in the management of Achilles tendinitis and can promote proper healing to ensure full recovery from this condition. As with other injuries, Achilles tendinitis is, according to Chinese medicine (TCM), caused by stagnation of qi-energy and blood. When the body’s energy is blocked or not flowing properly, the area that is blocked is unable to receive proper nourishment to perform its functions, leading to pain, stiffness, and weakness in the area. This blockage can be due to external causes such as trauma or injury, or from internal causes such as a weakness in the leg or heel due to our genetics or accumulated lifestyle habits. Acupuncture treatment focuses on removing the blockage and helping the energy and blood to flow again in order to remove pain and resolve the symptoms of the injury. This also helps the body to get blood and energy to the injured area, so that it can properly heal.

An acupuncturist also looks at what underlying factors have influenced health and weakened the tendon or made it vulnerable to injury. These can be things like our genetic constitution, our overall health, and our lifestyle choices such as nutrition, diet, and stress, that can lead to internal health imbalances that can contribute to injury. By also treating these underlying factors, we can strengthen the injured area and improve health, to help prevent future reoccurrence. In this way, acupuncture can be a great help for the resolution of an Achilles tendon problem.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

3 01, 2011

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in the joints wears down over time. The smooth surface of the cartilage becomes rough, causing irritation. Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, there may be no cushion left between the bones and the joint may be left with bone rubbing on bone, causing damage to the ends of the bones and the joints to become painful. The disorder can affect any joint in your body, but most commonly affects joints in your hands, hips, knees, neck, and lower back.

Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain (during or after movement), joint tenderness when palpated, joint stiffness (especially upon awakening or after a period of inactivity), loss of flexibility in the joint, a grating sensation in the joint, and bone spurs (extra bone that may form around the affected joint and feel like hard lumps).

It isn't clear what causes osteoarthritis in most cases. Researchers suspect that a combination of factors may play a role in the condition, including the aging process, joint injury or stress, heredity, muscle weakness, and obesity.

There is no known cure for osteoarthritis, and those suffering from osteoarthritis must look for treatments to relieve pain and manage symptoms. Western medical treatment for osteoarthritis includes pain relievers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), cortisone shots, and in more severe cases surgery to replace the joint, to fuse the bones in the affected joint, or to realign the affected bones. Physiotherapy, occupational therapists, and braces or shoe inserts may also be recommended, to reduce stress on the joint.

Acupuncture is a useful option to help manage osteoarthritis and help prevent further progression of this condition. Acupuncture sees osteoarthritis as a “bi syndrome”, meaning that it is caused by a blockage that prevents circulation of blood and qi-energy to the joint, leading to pain and stiffness. Over time, the syndrome progresses and the joint deteriorates because of the lack of proper nourishment. Acupuncture focuses on removing the obstruction to the joint and increasing circulation so that the can joint receive proper nourishment. In this way, the symptoms of pain, inflammation, and stiffness can be relieved, and the joint can become stronger and healthier.

This is one of the strengths of acupuncture, especially in the treatment of chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis- acupuncture focuses not only on relieving the symptoms but also on strengthening the body and supporting healing, to address the cause of the problem. In this way, acupuncture can help a person with osteoarthritis not only live symptom-free, but also help them to manage the condition in a healthy way and prevent or slow the progression of the condition.

With osteoarthritis, we should remember that this is a problem that will not go away and a proactive approach is necessary. Having osteoarthritis does not necessarily mean that a person must be resigned to pain and suffering- steps can be taken to minimize or prevent symptoms. The key to living with a condition such as this is to take steps towards healthy management through exercise, lifestyle changes, and therapies which relieve symptoms and help manage the condition. Acupuncture is certainly worth considering as part of this routine.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

3 01, 2011

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the lining of the joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. This condition is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues.

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause symptoms of joint pain, swelling and tenderness, as well as red and puffy hands, firm bumps of tissue under the skin on the arms (rheumatoid nodules), and morning stiffness that may last throughout the day. It can also affect the whole body with fevers, fatigue, and weight loss.

Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect the smaller joints first, such as the wrists, hands, ankles and feet, but as the disease progresses, the shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, jaw and neck can also become involved. Symptoms may vary in severity and may come and go. Flare-ups of disease activity alternate with periods of relative remission, during which the swelling, pain, difficulty sleeping and weakness lessen or disappear.

Doctors don’t know what causes rheumatoid arthritis, though it may have a genetic factor that is triggered by environmental factors such as a bacterial or viral infection. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, and treatment involves managing symptoms to prevent flare-ups and further progression of the disease. Western medical treatment may involve medications to reduce joint inflammation, relieve pain and prevent or slow joint damage; physiotherapy to teach better movements to protect the joints; and in severe cases, surgery.

In Chinese medicine, rheumatoid arthritis is considered a “bi syndrome”. “Bi” means obstruction or blockage, and bi syndromes are characterized by an obstruction of qi-energy and blood by wind, cold, dampness, or heat. This causes symptoms of aching, pain, heaviness, numbness, stiffness, redness, and swelling. Bi syndromes usually arise because of an underlying weakness or imbalance in the body that makes us vulnerable to injury or disease.

Bi syndromes that lead to rheumatoid arthritis typically arises from an imbalance of the kidneys, because of their role in the functioning of the bones and marrow, and the spleen, because problems with the spleen can lead to internal dampness in the body, as with joint swelling during a flare-up. The liver is also often involved with rheumatoid arthritis, because liver dysfunction can lead to blockages of qi-energy and shortage of blood, and the liver is also closely tied into the health of the tendons and ligaments.

However, rheumatic arthritis may have different causes depending on the person, and determining the organs involved is done by looking at the specific symptoms for each person. In this way, treatment is tailored to the individual’s symptoms and constitution, to better target the causes and relieve the symptoms.

Acupuncture has a lot to offer those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. It offers a healthy way to manage the symptoms of the condition, helping to reduce pain and inflammation and prevent flare-ups from occurring. Acupuncture improves the body’s healthy functioning, including the immune system. It is also very effective for the relief of pain and inflammation- in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, relieving joint pain and stiffness and helping the joints to function more healthily.

For those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, acupuncture offers a safe and healthy option to help manage the condition, prevent further progression, and enjoy life symptom-free.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

14 10, 2010

Plantar Fasciitis / Foot Pain

Between the heel bone and the toes runs a strong fascia or ligament. It is made of connective tissue and supports the arch of the foot. The foot has two arches, a length arch and a width arch. The length arch is the one most commonly affected by plantar fasciitis. When the arch is round and strong the bones of the foot are in the right position and there is balance in the foot. When the arch flattens, a lot of strain on the bones and surrounding ligaments is created, resulting in pain, which can easily become excruciating, if not treated properly. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain.

Athletes, especially those running on hard surfaces, put a lot of strain on their arches and are prone to developing plantar fasciitis. People carrying extra weight and women who are pregnant also put extra stress on the arch, and the bones and ligaments often cannot recover from the continuous strain. Jobs that require much standing and walking can also contribute to plantar fasciitis, as can wearing shoes with inadequate support. In all cases, the fascia gets overstressed and becomes inflamed.

Western medicine treats this condition with rest and ice in the acute stage and later orthotics can be prescribed. Anti-inflammatory drugs can also help. Very important is the strengthening of the intrinsic muscles in the foot, which support the arch. These muscles have to be strong and wearing the wrong shoes can make them weak. In an acute stage, taping the foot to support the arch, in combination with muscle strengthening exercises, is a good approach to this problem. Stretching the plantar fasciia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles can also help with recovery.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine the sole of the foot is primarily the area of the Kidney meridian. It is where the Kidney meridian begins and finds its way up to the chest. Close to the fascia runs the Bladder meridian, so weakness in the Kidney and Bladder meridians can result in plantar fasciitis among other symptoms. Pain and inflammation in Chinese terms are stagnation of blood and qi-energy in the involved meridians, because of a malfunctioning of the corresponding organs.

Acupuncture treatment will focus on Kidney points, Bladder points, Galbladder points and the so called “ah shi” points, or local pain points. Allowing the foot muscles to rest and recover is also important- this can mean supporting them with properly fitting shoes, taking a break from exercise or training routine, or reducing the amount of time you spend on your feet while recovering. Plantar fasciitis can be difficult to treat simply because we rely on our feet so much during our day-to-day activities, and this creates a major hindrance to the healing process. Acupuncture, together with some rest, can offer relief in foot pain and improved function in a relatively short amount of time. The key to successful treatment is to address the problem early on, and to treat it fully so as to ensure that there are no lingering problems or that the condition does not recur.

Plantar fasciitis is another example of how acupuncture can successfully treat a common ailment, without using medication or surgery, but simply by harnessing the strength and energy that exists within our bodies.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.