Should a Christian consider acupuncture for foot pain?

Health Q & A with Dr. Michael Jacobson, D.O. 

From the February 2020 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

Editor’s note: The CHM Guidelines state that bills for alternative treatment are ineligible for sharing. This includes bills for blood work or testing that supports alternative treatment. For more information, see CHM Guideline N.1 and the appendix.

Q: As a runner, I’ve been dealing with a foot injury for several years. Traditional medicine has been unable to help: My ability to run or jog has been drastically reduced. I know several fellow believers who have found help through acupuncture, but I’m unsure how to feel about that as a believer myself. Any suggestions about looking into that and how to seek the medical side of it without the mystic aspect?

A: Great question. Acupuncture is an increasingly popular option in the U.S., where acupuncture has, in most cases, been disconnected from its traditional Chinese medicine roots of chi energy meridians (such as Yin and Yang). For example, many practitioners now use “dry needling,” an evidence-based treatment with physiological explanations (such as neuromuscular reflexes, distraction, etc., rather than explaining its effects on the basis of chi energy). The treatment uses recommended “trigger point” locations and dosages for the treatment of specific conditions. In another example, acupuncture has been endorsed by the U.S. military as a means of reducing the need for medication in deployed settings (referred to as “Battlefield Acupuncture”).

I suggest you consider looking around for a physician or physical therapist who practices sports medicine and possibly offers dry needling as an adjunct. That way, you will have a clinician who is tuned in to running injuries and can consider the best approach to your problem. Just prior to writing this response, I tore a hamstring muscle while running, and went to a family physician colleague of mine who also completed a fellowship in sports medicine. After evaluating me, he sent me to a physical therapist who has a specialized interest in long-distance running. I chose them both because they are long distance runners themselves. The care I’ve received has really helped turn things around.

Please note: My office requires a one-week turnaround for medical information. If you have an acute or emergency medical incident, please seek immediate medical attention.

If you have a health question for Dr. Jacobson, CHM Medical Director, please email it to doc@chministries.org. This information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.

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