The foot is primarily associated with walking, movement toward the outside world, from yin to yang, and constitutes one of our modes of communication. In supporting the principle of the body in the walking mode, the foot is not only the symbol of grounding, but also of our inner strength in the sense that it supports the upright position and also our vulnerability. The feet our first stage of development is standing and walking and the foot establishes contact with the earth. The footsteps we leave on the ground bear witness to the path we are on, either good or bad.
In my practice I have worked with so many different types of foot problems such as tendonitis, cold feet, neuropathy, bone spur and plantar fascitis. These are just several of the many aside from toe pain that is sometimes involved. All of these disorders are diagnosed in accordance with the Qi. Most often plantar heel pain indicates a yin access and can be eliminated by needling certain kidney points. It can also be an excess problem in some cases and that would involve draining certain points around the foot. Tendonitis can be an athletic injury and can range in its severity, however, when untreated a minor injury can quickly turn into a severe injury. There are three places that tendonitis can occur along the heel. This pain needs to be distinguished from bone spur and rheumatoid arthritis.
Bone spurs are treatable with acupuncture and herbs. Since this has to do with the bone, in Chinese medicine it is related to the Kidney energy, which is in charge of building bone. Bone spur is a common problem on the foot and is an overgrowth of bone most commonly seen at a joint, the place where the two bones meet and allow for movement. Abnormal motion at the level of the joint over the course of time will cause the spur to form. You can also have spurring of the joint as a result of excessive tension on the bone from where the tendon attaches. Normal aging will also cause bone spurs to form. The most famous bone spur occurs on the heel. I have had good luck combing acupuncture and also I use a Chinese formula, which has worked wonders on many patients. Personally I have seen too many botched surgeries and I am not one to condone cortisone shots.
Neuropathy is another peripheral vascular disease that can be a very serious problem. This is also called the diabetic foot and is sometimes overlooked until it accelerates to a total loss of sensation. As diabetes progresses many diabetics lose sensation in their feet but it can also present as relentless burning, tingling or numbness. I have treated many patients over the last ten years and they have all experienced a difference with the combination of acupuncture and herbs. This is also related to the kidney but I have seen the liver and spleen meridians involves as well. In the foot in Chinese medicine there are the Liver, Gall Bladder, Kidney and Spleen meridians that all run through different parts of the foot. So many times through a diagnosis I can decipher the problems as an organ problem it the presentation goes right down a specific channel. Also I have noticed that many patients can present the same problem but it will demand a different diagnosis depending on the patient.
The last common complaint is Cold feet. In addition to cold weather, a poor functioning thyroid, blood deficiency, Raynauds disease, rheumatoid arthritis and high blood pressure, many people need to change their diet and stay away form cold foods, caffeine and smoking in order to allow their Qi to move through their body into their feet. Cold damp weather with further restricts the blood flow that goes to the toes. I also have many patients who work outdoors and need to protect themselves better from the cold. Circulation and blood flow are the main things to increase with cold feet. Chinese medicine does not usually refer to western terms but rather the patient comes in and presents their symptoms and the acupuncture treats them according to what they see, their pulses and their tongue are the diagnostic tools.
Through its transport points, the foot is a place of exchange between human Qi and universal Qi. It is one of the branches of the body. I believe rehabilitation can take place without surgery and there are many different approaches through the use of acupuncture and herbs that are extremely effective.