The broken bone in my foot, sustained after a fall down a staircase in my home, had occurred midway down the fifth metatarsal bone below my little toe—a site that is notoriously difficult to heal, according to my podiatrist. Yet, I complained to my podiatrist on a follow-up visit that I was still experiencing pain in the area of the broken bone. My podiatrist, who I like because he has a good sense of humor, said, “Yeah, after all that surgery, doc, my foot still hurts, and it’s worse than before!” He was exaggerating, of course. But the pain didn’t resolve after a few months, and I was back in my podiatrist’s office again. Several days after her first acupuncture treatment, the author’s foot pain had decreased by about half. She then placed what looked like small plastic suction cups, each a little bigger than a quarter in diameter, on and near the scar on my foot.
After a few sessions, the home exercises didn’t seem to be helping, and the cupping seemed to only make the pain in my foot worse.
Unfortunately, that second session of acupressure did not significantly change the pain in my foot.
When I told Lourie that my podiatrist had said that acupuncture can interfere with the pain signals to and from the brain, she agreed the needles might have this effect.
I wondered whether there were patients with nerve pain that Lourie had treated who weren’t helped by acupuncture and Chinese medicine. When I started this journey toward finding a solution to the nerve pain in my foot, I never anticipated I would find the answer in the office of an acupuncturist.

Yet, as it turns out, there is evidence in the medical literature to support the beneficial effects of acupuncture on nerve pain. Download this FREE eBook to see how foot pressure data contributes to more efficient treatment and better outcomes.
I couldn’t wait for the boot to be removed, and to be free of the foot pain that had hounded me for a year. The pain centered around the thin red scar left from surgery that I could now see on the right side of my right foot.
But the pain was actually very similar to the ache I had felt before the surgery whenever I removed the walking boot.
I wondered whether the long period in a cast might have weakened the foot and that weakness might be contributing toward the pain, which I experienced only when I walked or put pressure on the foot. A friend who also suffered from nerve pain in her feet enthusiastically recommended her, and I had high hopes for the visit as I drove toward her office.
All through the session I could feel this ting­ling—a not unpleasant sensation—in my foot, along with the soothing touch of the practitioner’s hands.
She explained that as well as putting acupuncture needles throughout my body, she would be treating the painful area on my foot with one or more needles.
But, in my case, she’d also be placing a needle locally on my foot, near to and at the site of the scar, to address a specific symptom there—a process called placing an “extra” or “Ashi point” in Chinese medicine, she said.
But the most important contributor to the healing of the foot tissue would be the needle’s effect on the qi, she noted.

Lourie told me some of her patients have experienced serious nerve pain, and sometimes, their treatment isn’t as successful as mine. The pain was not severe, but cropped up often enough that I was hampered in daily activities. And after several treatments—each spaced two weeks apart—the pain in my foot was quite noticeably better.
Then came six more weeks in a plaster cast and several more months in that achingly familiar heavy fracture boot (see “Patient Perspective: Communication takes edge off pain of recovery,” September 2012, page 23). As she kneaded and applied pressure on my feet while I lay on a massage table, I could feel a tingling pins-and-needles sensation in my right foot, particularly near the area of the scar. But several days later, the pain set in, and so I returned for another session of acupressure.
The sensation was momentary, and after she placed the needles, I had no pain at the needle sites at all. Gabapentin—which addresses nerve pain—was helpful, but did not get rid of my foot ache entirely.

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