Your legs are incredible things. They walk, run, dance, take stairs two at a time, and carry a lot of weight. You probably don’t think much about your legs until they start to give you problems. In addition, you may not think much about acupuncture when your legs are acting up, but you should. There are a number of conditions related to your legs that acupuncture can really help. Among them:
Restless Legs. If your legs are running, jumping, and twitching all night long, chances are you have Restless Leg Syndrome. The jury is still out as to why this happens. You may find your symptoms are worse when you exercise or maybe when you don’t. Either way, once you’re in bed for the evening, your legs start up. In Chinese medicine however, restless legs tend to be a pattern of depletion. In other words your energy is low, you may feel fatigued overall, and while it may sound counter intuitive, there’s not enough energy to hold things still.
Hip or Knee Pain. At Acupuncture in the Park, we have worked with many patients who are experiencing knee and/or hip pain. Many know that they have a joint replacement looming on the horizon, but just aren’t quite ready yet. Others are recovering from surgery, and some just need relief from a tweak or an overuse injury. We have found acupuncture to be effective for both pain relief and inflammation. Locally (around the joint) a few well-placed needles increase the circulation of white blood cells which help counter inflammation, and systemically, acupuncture acts to block the transmission of pain signals to your brain.
Gout. Anyone who has suffered from gout is no stranger to the painful, red swelling that most commonly occurs at the base of your big toe. Gout is the build up of uric acid crystals which settle in the joint, causing you all kinds of grief. While your big toe is the most common site of gout inflammation, it can occur in other joints. In Chinese medicine, the redness and swelling indicate that gout is a pattern of dampness (the build up of fluids, often from eating too much rich food) plus heat. This is a problem that your acupuncturist will treat both locally, but also by dealing with the retention of dampness and heat in your body.
Leg Qi. This one has a funny name, but it’s a condition of red, swollen, and hot legs and feet. It’s similar to gout in that the pattern of imbalance in Chinese medicine is dampness and heat. However, while gout affects just the joints, Leg Qi presents as redness and swelling of the feet and lower legs. Like gout, the treatment would involve getting rid of your dampness, which will decrease the swelling, and cooling off the heat.
Ankle Sprains. A couple of years ago, I rolled my ankle while working out in the yard. It was a mild sprain, but I was surprised at how much it hurt! Acupuncture can help patients with sprained ankles in a couple of ways. While we don’t needle into a bruised and swollen ankle, once the swelling has gone down, acupuncture can help with pain relief and the inflammation associated with the sprain. In some cases, an ankle sprain can linger for months and even years, with weakness, poor range of motion, and even persistent pain. I have seen more than my share of surprised patients who have believed that their ankle pain is just something they are stuck with, only to find that a couple of acupuncture sessions has restored ankle function and rendered them pain-free.
Your legs are the work horses of your body. Keep them healthy by exercising and stretching. When they act up, pay attention. In many cases acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be the answer to restoring function when your legs become sore, swollen, twitchy, or traumatized.