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Neurological Conditions

How to Treat Aphasia With Acupuncture and TCM (Scalp Acupuncture)

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By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

scalp acupuncture aphasia
Scalp acupuncture can help stroke recovery and aphasia.

Difficulty speaking, reading or writing due to brain damage is known as “aphasia.” Different types of aphasia can develop after a person has a stroke or head injury. Aphasia can also be a symptom of dementia. Acupuncture—especially “scalp acupuncture”—can help a person regain brain function and speech.

Aphasia—sometimes called “dysphasia”— is a language disorder that occurs because a part of the brain that controls speech, comprehension, and communication is not functioning correctly. This is usually due to damage or pressure on that part of the brain.

Scalp Acupuncture, sometimes called “neuroacupuncture,” is a specific technique that combines Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medical understanding of neurology. Acupuncture needles are used to stimulate points on the head, or scalp, that have a direct effect on brain cells.

Scalp acupuncture can be helpful in treating acute and chronic central nervous system disorders that cause aphasia, as well as cognitive difficulties, trouble with motor skills, and even paralysis.

Scalp Acupuncture can be used to help people regain brain function after having suffered a stroke or injury to the head. Aphasia is generally considered to be related to this type of damage, but speech problems and trouble with cognition and comprehension can often occur with other neurological disorders, too.

This type of acupuncture treatment can also help people with neurological conditions such as:

Neurological disorders cause problems with the way the brain communicates information and instructions to the organs and limbs via the nervous system; this is what leads to a wide variety of language and movement disorders.

Scalp acupuncture can be used to help these conditions because it can stimulate malfunctioning brain cells to begin working properly again, encourage the growth of new brain cells, and reestablish connections between the brain and the rest of the central nervous system.

Acupuncture can help improve some of the most common symptoms of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and MS, including:

Scalp acupuncture can be an effective form of integrative medicine to help people overcome these symptoms, whether they are recovering from a stroke or suffering from a neurological disorder.

 

What is Scalp Acupuncture?

scalp acupuncture
Scalp acupuncture uses small needles inserted just under the surface of the scalp.

Acupuncture is one of several modalities used in TCM, which is a complete medical system with a history going back thousands of years. The stimulation of points on the head and/or scalp has always been used as a method for treating all types of symptoms and underlying conditions.

“Scalp acupuncture” is a term that refers to a more specific, contemporary acupuncture technique that combines ancient TCM knowledge with modern medical understanding of the anatomy of the brain and the way parts of the brain interact with the nervous system to control various bodily and sensory functions.

In Chinese Medicine, acupuncture points are usually chosen based on the theory of the meridians—channels along which Qi (energy) moves through the body. Along each meridian lie several points that connect organ systems and parts of the body. This concept of a network system of meridians is more metaphorical in nature, rather than based on actual physiology. In TCM we may consider that a problem in one part of the body is related to an imbalance in a (seemingly) different organ system. For example, anxiety and heart palpitations might be treated by needling a point on the head that is on the Stomach meridian.

In Western medicine, “somatotopic arrangement” describes the understanding of how parts of the brain, and particularly the nerve endings on the scalp, are arrayed in a pattern around the skull and correspond to different sensory functions, such as speech, visual perception, balance, and motor skills. With MRI technology, scientists have been able to “map” out how parts of the nervous system on the scalp correspond to parts of the body, like the feet, and the hands, etc.

With the practice of scalp acupuncture, we are combining these concepts and using acupuncture as a way of directly influencing parts of the brain, like the cerebral cortex, hypothalamus, cerebellum, etc. This can help both to heal parts of the brain that might be damaged due to a stroke, and to regulate functioning of those parts, so as to help restore proper functioning of motor activities and the senses.

This technique involves the insertion of small acupuncture needles into the tissues just beneath the surface of the skin on the scalp. Then, the needles may be be stimulated, either by manually twisting, or with electro-acupuncture (sometimes called “electro-stim”). Here, we attach small electrodes to the needles, and a mild to medium level of electric current flows to activate a vibration and/or rotation.

electroacupuncture electro-stim
Electro-stim machine used for electroacupuncture.

As part of the goal is to reactivate nervous system connections, the patient may be asked to be active during the treatment; that is, by moving the part of the body that is experiencing weak movement, or at least, to visualize or imagine themselves performing the movement.

One study of patients being treated with scalp acupuncture for aphasia showed that 46% showed “marked improvement,” while almost all patients showed some improvement.

In a study of scalp acupuncture for treatment of paralysis, all patients showed improvement, while 68% were cured.

While more research is needed, it is also believed that scalp acupuncture may be a good alternative therapy to help treat mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, and PTSD, as well as sleep disorders, like insomnia.

 

Scalp Acupuncture for Aphasia and Stroke Recovery in Los Angeles

At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience treating neurological disorders of all kinds. Our training in China gave us a thorough understanding of integrative medicine, using both TCM and Western medicine knowledge to provide the best possible outcomes for our patients. We have continued to grow and learn, while working closely with doctors and patients in Los Angeles since 1995. If you or someone you love is recovering from a stroke, or living with a chronic neurological condition, please consider trying acupuncture as an adjunct treatment.



 


*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

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How to Treat Encephalitis With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.

encephalitis neck pain stiff
Neck pain or stiffness can be a sign of encephalitis.

Headache, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, short-term memory loss? These could be signs of encephalitis, or inflammation in the brain. Infectious encephalitis can happen due to an infection; autoimmune encephalitis (AIE) is a type of autoimmune disorder. Acupuncture and TCM offer an adjunct treatment for encephalitis recovery.

What is encephalitis? Encephalitis refers to a serious condition in which the tissues of the brain become inflamed. It can happen to anyone, but is more common among children and older people.

The symptoms of encephalitis are sometimes ignored, because headaches, neck pain, and “brain fog” are so common and may not seem that serious at first. However, in combination, these signs should not be taken lightly. Like meningitis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord), encephalitis can cause serious complications if left untreated. Encephalitis needs to be caught early and treated in order for people to make a full recovery.

What causes encephalitis? Brain inflammation can be caused by the body’s immune response to an infection, or due to an autoimmune disorder, in which the body produces antibodies that attack the brain tissues. 

Top 10 Causes of Encephalitis

Viral infections are the primary reason that people develop encephalitis. These could be viruses carried by insects, especially mosquitoes, which are then contracted by humans through bites. Other communicable viral infections that pass from person to person through bodily fluids or close contact can also cause infectious encephalitis.

Infections that can lead to encephalitis include:

  1. Mosquito-borne viruses such as: West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis, Western Equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, LaCrosse encephalitis
  2. Tick-borne viruses
  3. Rabies virus – can be contracted through being bitten by an infected animal
  4. Polio virus
  5. Herpes Simplex, Type 1 and Type 2 (HPV1 and HPV2)
  6. Epstein-Barr virus (mono, mononucleosis)
  7. Varicella Oster virus (chicken pox, shingles)
  8. Measles (rubeola)
  9. German measles (rubella)
  10. Mumps

There have been cases of people developing encephalitis as a complication of a COVID-19 infection.

Some cases of encephalitis can be caused by bacterial or fungal infections, or by a parasite. It could also be caused by exposure to some sort of allergen or toxin in the environment.

People with weakened immune systems—for example, due to HIV/AIDs—or who take immunosuppressant medications are at a higher risk for developing encephalitis.

Immunotherapy used to treat certain kinds of cancer, such as melanoma, ovarian cancer or lung cancer, has been shown to cause encephalitis in some cases.

Some cases of autoimmune encephalitis, called Anti-NMDAR encephalitis, appear to be related to a certain kind of tumor called a teteroma. In women and young women, especially, this can be an ovarian tumor that produces the antibodies for NMDAR.

Symptoms of Encephalitis

encephalitis in children
Children can develop encephalitis due to a viral or bacterial infection.

A mild case of encephalitis might only cause some flu-like symptoms that clear up within a few weeks. These types of symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck, neck pain
  • Muscle aches, joint pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue, feeling tired and weak
  • Sensitivity to light

More severe symptoms of encephalitis can affect both cognitive and motor function:

  • Mental confusion, brain fog, difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems, short term memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Trouble with coordination or balance
  • Loss of sensations in parts of the body or face
  • Loss of muscle control in parts of the body or face
  • Problems with speaking or hearing
  • Mood swings, changes in personality

Anti-NMDAR encephalitis (when there may be an ovarian tumor involved, especially) can cause symptoms like pro-domal headache, nausea, and fever, which may then progress to more severe complications, including involuntary movements or tremors, urinary incontinence, rapid heartbeat, and psychiatric symptoms like anxiety, paranoia, or mania.

In severe cases, encephalitis can cause loss of consciousness and even cause a person to go into a coma. It is very important to seek urgent medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.

Treatment for Encephalitis

encephalitis brain inflammation
Imaging may show inflammation in the brain.

Blood tests can confirm whether a viral or bacterial infection is causing encephalitis. Imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan may show the inflammation in the brain. A spinal tap may show an imbalance in cerebral fluids, or an EEG may show unusual electrical impulses in the brain.

However, there are times when these tests will not show exactly what is causing the encephalitis. As with many autoimmune disorders, it can be hard to pinpoint a clear diagnosis for autoimmune encephalitis (AIE).

Medical treatment for encephalitis will depend on what type it is determined to be. Mild inflammation will usually be treated with over the counter anti-inflammatory medications. Antivirals or antibiotics will be prescribed if a specific infection is found to be the cause. Steroids will often be used to help reduce inflammation. In more serious cases, a person may require breathing assistance or anti-seizure medications.

 In cases where the cause is believed to be an autoimmune response, immunotherapy is used to try to interfere with the antibodies that are attacking the brain tissues. Steroids will be usually used in combination with other treatments. Plasmapheresis, or plasma exchange, removes some of these antibodies from the blood. Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy introduces healthy antibodies to block the action of the malfunctioning antibodies.

In cases of anti-NMDAR encephalitis where a tumor is present, treatment will include the removal of the tumor in addition to immunotherapy. Patients with this type of encephalitis may also be prescribed antipsychotic drugs to relieve psychiatric symptoms.

Immunotherapy works for some patients, but not all. Many patients will be offered second-line treatments such as monoclonal antibodies or antimetabolites. In some cases, people may seem to recover from encephalitis for a while, and then have a relapse in which the inflammation flares up again.

Most people will need significant time and rehabilitation to help them make a full recovery from encephalitis. Some people will have long-lasting effects, such as memory problems, balance and coordination issues, speech problems, and emotional volatility. 

Many of the pharmaceutical treatments available for encephalitis cause significant side effects and can even lead to more physical, emotional and mental health issues. Fortunately, acupuncture and other TCM modalities offer a way to reduce inflammation in the brain and help relieve encephalitis, as well as helping to offset any side effects from other medical interventions.

Can Acupuncture Help Encephalitis?

Chinese herbs reduce inflammation
Chinese herbs can help reduce inflammation.

With acupuncture and Chinese herbs, we seek to treat the root cause and the various symptoms and complications of each condition according to recognizable patterns. This allows us to effectively treat some conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders, and inflammatory conditions that may not readily respond to conventional medicine. 

In the TCM view, inflammation occurs because there is too much heat in the body. Yang energy provides the “fire” we need to keep the body warm and energetic. But, if there is an imbalance, and too much heat, this leads to conditions like fever, infections, and inflammation. So, we see pathogenic internal heat as contributing to encephalitis, in addition to outside pathogens like viruses or bacteria. To clear heat that is trapped or stagnant in the body, we will use specific herbs and cooling foods, along with acupuncture treatment and lifestyle changes to reduce physical and mental stress. TCM herbs can also be highly effective against bacterial and viral infections.

The motor control and cognitive problems that can result from encephalitis occur because the inflammation in the brain is affecting the functioning of the central nervous system. With acupuncture, we can help to reestablish connections and neural pathways.

Autoimmune disorders are still not well understood by Western medicine, but with acupuncture we can help to balance and regulate the immune system, so that it is not being inappropriately triggered. This is why acupuncture works well as an adjunct treatment for encephalitis and many other autoimmune disorders.

Acupuncture Near Me for Encephalitis in Los Angeles and West Los Angeles

It can be very difficult when you or someone you love is facing a serious illness and a long, difficult recovery. TCM offers a healthcare option that treats each person in a highly individualized and caring way. At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience helping people gain back their strength and mobility after suffering from conditions like encephalitis, meningitis, Lyme disease, Guillain Barré Syndrome, Myasthenia Gravisand many others.




*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

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How to Treat Occipital Neuralgia With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

occipital neuralgia migraine neck pain back of head
Occipital Neuralgia causes neck pain and back of head pain.

Throbbing headache and back of neck pain? Occipital Neuralgia, sometimes called “occipital migraine,” is a kind of chronic headache that causes stabbing neck pain and headache back of head. Acupuncture and TCM offer a way to help ease occipital nerve pain.

Occipital headache causes are usually due to compression of the occipital nerves, which start at the top of the spine where the neck is joined to the head and then run up into the scalp. A pinched nerve in the neck area, or tight muscles in the neck can lead to occipital pain, like a headache at base of skull.

Neck pain and back of head pain from an occipital migraine is often described as feeling like an electric shock or “zap,” or a sharp, shooting pain in the back of the head. The sensation may come on suddenly and last for only a few seconds, or it can go on throbbing for hours.

Occipital neuralgia pain is similar to that of Trigeminal Neuralgia, in which the intense nerve pain is on one side of the face, rather than the back part of the head. Occipital pain can also resemble that of chronic migraines and other kinds of headache disorders.

Occipital Neuralgia pain areas can include:

  1. Pain starts in the back of the neck and spreads upwards
  2. Back of head pain, behind the ears
  3. Pain on one side of the head
  4. Scalp pain, scalp tender to the touch
  5. Pain in the forehead
  6. Pain behind the eyes
  7. Eyes are sensitive to light

Occipital neuralgia pain can make the scalp feel so sensitive that even shampooing your hair or resting your head on a pillow feels unbearable. It can also feel like a burning sensation, or simply an aching neck.

Acupuncture can be used as an alternative or adjunct therapy for occipital neuralgia to bring headache and neck pain relief.

 

What Causes Occipital Neuralgia?

occipital neuralgia back of head pain migraine
Occipital headaches often start at the base of the skull and move upwards

Occipital neuralgia occurs when the occipital nerves in the back of the head and neck are irritated or injured. There can be many different kinds of factors that trigger occipital neuralgia, such as:

  • Pinched nerve in the neck
  • Tension or tight muscles in the neck cause compression
  • Compression of the nerves due to osteoarthritis in the spine, degenerative disc disease, or a herniated disk
  • Trauma to the back of the head or the neck
  • Tumor or other type of lesion in neck compresses the nerves
  • Gout
  • Diabetes
  • Vasculitis (inflamed blood vessels)

Holding the head and neck in a position where it is tilted forward and down, such as when reading or looking at a screen for long periods of time can be associated with occipital neuralgia. 

Often, though, the exact cause of the occipital pain in the head and neck is not discovered.

There is no clear test used to diagnose occipital neuralgia. The symptoms of occipital nerve pain are similar to other types of migraine headaches, and it is possible for a person to have both migraines and occipital neuralgia, so it can be challenging for doctors to determine exactly what is going on.

Conventional Treatment for Occipital Neuralgia

One of the ways that medical doctors will try to confirm a diagnosis of Occipital Neuralgia is by injecting a combination of anesthetic and steroids (occipital nerve block) into the affected area, to see if it deadens the pain. Botox injections can also be used to produce this effect. The hope is that the irritated nerve will heal over time.

If neck tension seems to be the issue, muscle relaxants may be prescribed. Massage therapy can sometimes be helpful in these cases.

Occipital neuralgia treatment at home might involve alternating ice packs and heating pads to help relieve pain at the back of the neck. Exercises like yoga may also be helpful for relieving neck tension that triggers the nerve pain.

If none of these treatments provides relief, then surgical options might include occipital nerve stimulation, in which electrodes are implanted to block nerve signals.

Acupuncture and TCM can be sought as an alternative way to deal with occipital neuralgia, and many other types of nerve pain.

Can Acupuncture Help Occipital Neuralgia?

acupuncture for neck pain headaches and migraine
Acupuncture can help relieve neck pain, headaches, migraines, and nerve pain.

From the TCM point of view, pain conditions that come and go, or cause periodic pain and stiffness, fall under a category called “Bi Syndromes.” “Bi” means “obstruction.” Bi Syndromes occur when an external pathogenic force like wind, cold, or dampness gets into an area of the body and causes blockages in the flow of Qi. Then, the muscles and joints may be tender, swollen, or sore, or numb and tingling, or have limited range of movement. Most types of arthritis, for example, are Bi Syndromes, according to TCM theory.

Occipital neuralgia is considered a Bi Syndrome, where tightness in the neck and base of the skull causes the stabbing nerve pain to flare up. The goals of acupuncture treatment for occipital headache and neck pain are to reduce tension, stress, and inflammation, to clear blockages in the Qi at the organ system level, and to provide natural analgesic relief from nerve pain signals.

One case study of a patient who had been suffering from occipital headaches for over a year found that her pain resolved after five acupuncture treatments.

A systematic review of evidence related to TCM treatment for occipital neuralgia in China showed that acupuncture was effective both as an alternative to medical treatment, and as an adjunct to medicine.

Acupuncture Near Me for Occipital Neuralgia in Los Angeles

At Art of Wellness Acupuncture near Santa Monica and Brentwood, we have over 30 years of experience helping people heal from all kinds of neurological conditions and nerve pain. Conditions related to nerve compression, such as Carpal Tunnel syndrome (wrist pain), Morton’s Neuroma (ball of foot pain), Sciatica (hip pain), Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain), and even dental pain (toothaches) can all be relieved with acupuncture and TCM treatment. If you or someone you know is suffering with recurring headaches, migraines, or neck pain, please consider giving acupuncture a try.



*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

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How to Treat Morton’s Neuroma With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

Morton
Ball of foot pain and tingling can be a sign of Morton’s Neuroma.

Do you feel like there is a pebble in your shoe all the time? Burning, tingling ball of foot pain? Tenderness between the 3rd and 4th toes? These could be symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma, a condition in which inflammation and swelling around a nerve in the ball of the foot causes toe pain and numbness. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help relieve Morton’s Neuroma foot pain.

Morton’s Neuroma is a problem related to swelling and thickening of tissue around a nerve in the foot. This nerve runs under the ligaments that connect the toe bones to the bones of the foot. A neuroma is considered to be a kind of benign tumor or growth and is usually not large enough to feel as an actual lump on the bottom of the foot.

Pain in the forefoot, or ball of foot pain, can be a sign of Morton’s Neuroma, or it could be a symptom of one of several other conditions, including: 

  • Metatarsalgia – a general term for pain and inflammation in the ball of foot, around the metatarsals. Pain symptoms can be similar to those of Morton’s Neuroma
  • Capsulitis – irritation of the capsular ligaments in the foot can cause pain in the ball of the foot that comes and goes
  • Gout – a type of arthritis in the foot or toes, caused by a buildup of uric acid
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – an autoimmune condition that causes arthritic pain that usually begins in the extremities
  • Bunion pain – a bony bump that develops on the outside of the big toe joint
  • Edema – swelling caused by fluid trapped in the tissues of the foot
  • Arthritis – a general term for joint pain, which can affect the toes and feet
  • Fractured bones in foot
  • Bursitis – bursas are small sacs that act as cushioning for joints; there are bursae around the metatarsals that can become inflamed, causing ball of foot pain
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome – a condition where the tibial nerve is compressed in the tarsal tunnel area of the ankle, causing pain and tingling in the foot
  • Radiculopathy – compression of a nerve in the lower back can cause pain in the foot, similar to sciatica
  • Hammertoe – when one of the toes becomes bent, usually due to pinching shoes, and the muscles and ligaments can’t straighten it, causing swelling and pain
  • Diabetes – foot pain and numbness (diabetic neuropathy) can happen due to diabetes.

It is possible for a person to have one of the conditions listed above, and also have a Morton’s Neuroma; sometimes another foot problem can contribute to the development of a neuroma.

Morton’s Neuroma Symptoms

The signs of a Morton’s Neuroma include:

  1. Ball of foot pain, especially when you put weight on in
  2. Toe pain or pain between the toes
  3. Numbness or tingling in the ball of the foot, “pins and needles” sensation
  4. Swelling between toes or in the ball of the foot
  5. Pain is better with rest, staying off of your foot

People often describe the sensation as feeling like there’s a pebble in your shoe or a wrinkle in your sock that is irritating, particularly in the area between the third and fourth toes. 

Typically, the symptoms of neuroma begin to be noticeable when you are either engaging in an activity that aggravates the nerve, like running or playing a high-impact sport like tennis, or wearing shoes that force the ball of your foot to take extra impact. The pain and tingling may get better when you finish, take off your shoes, and rub your foot. 

Over time, though, as the neuroma gets bigger, the pain may get worse and more persistent. If Morton’s Neuroma is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the nerve.

What Causes Morton’s Neuroma?

Morton
Wearing shoes with very high heels or a tight toe box can sometimes lead to Morton’s Neuroma foot pain.

Morton’s Neuroma occurs due to compression of the nerve in the foot that carries sensory signals from the toes. Some people may be more prone to developing Morton’s Neuroma due to the shape of their foot, such as having an unusually high arch, or a very flat foot. 

The way that the foot hits the ground and leaves the ground while walking or running can cause a lot of impact and stress to the ball of the foot. An injury to the foot or toes, or other type of trauma, can trigger this nerve condition, as can repetitive stress from a particular sport or other activity. Wearing high heels, flip-flops, or shoes that pinch the toes together can be a factor. 

Morton’s Neuroma Treatment

A foot specialist, or podiatrist, will diagnose Morton’s Neuroma by feeling the ball of the foot to see if there is a noticeable mass and to sense what the pain and tingling symptoms are like for the patient. An ultrasound or MRI can show a soft tissue mass like a neuroma, and may be used to confirm the diagnosis. 

Usually the first recommendations for a person with Morton’s Neuroma will be to change their footwear: choosing roomier shoes and softer, padded socks, etc. Orthotic supports may be prescribed.

Steroid injections may be used to relieve pain and swelling. If these measures do not help, surgery for Morton’s Neuroma can either be to cut ligaments and other nearby tissues to try to relieve pressure, or in some cases, the affected nerve itself may be removed (neurectomy). This can relieve pain; it can also reduce sensation in the foot permanently. There is also a chance with some surgeries that the neuroma may simply grow again.

Neuromas do not generally go away on their own. The most conservative treatment options for Morton’s Neuroma—like rest, icing, and different shoes—may or may not help to relieve the pain and tingling. Fortunately, acupuncture treatment is an excellent way to help relieve nerve pain.

Can Acupuncture Help Morton’s Neuroma Foot Pain?

acupuncture points for Morton
Acupuncture treatment for Morton’s Neuroma can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Inflammation and compression around nerves can cause nerve pain in many different parts of the body. For example, pinched or compressed nerves in the spine, or a herniated disc, can cause sciatica or piriformis syndrome: hip pain or pain that radiates down the leg. Compression of the plantar nerve can cause heel pain. A pinched nerve in the neck can cause shoulder pain and/or neck pain. Impingement of the median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome. An inflamed trigeminal nerve causes pain in the face. With acupuncture, we are able to provide treatments that can help relieve all of these types of nerve pain.

Acupuncture and other Chinese medicine modalities can help to reduce inflammation that presses on nerves, release scar tissue, and help to heal nerves and the irritated soft tissues surrounding them, like ligaments and muscles. Acupuncture also acts as an analgesic, reducing pain and increasing endorphins.

Evidence suggests that the stimulation of acupuncture points encourages the pituitary gland to release more cortisol, which plays an important role in reducing inflammation. It has been hypothesized that acupuncture influences the release of neuropeptides from nerve endings, which is also a key part of the inflammatory response.

According to TCM theory, this type of pain is often considered to arise due to “Bi Syndrome” conditions, in which stagnation of Qi and blood causes stiffness. The blockage of energy usually occurs due to pathogenic forces of “wind,” “cold,” or “dampness,” or some combination of these factors. Thus, the acupuncture practitioner will choose from a variety of methods including acupuncture, herbal supplements, moxibustion, and Tuina massage to clear obstructions that lead to pain and numbness, such as with Morton’s Neuroma.

Acupuncture Near Me for Morton’s Neuroma, Los Angeles Area

There are many different conditions that can cause foot pain and toe pain. It is important to seek care for foot problems promptly, so that they do not become worse. Acupuncture and other TCM treatments can help improve and maintain foot health for everyone, and can help manage and relieve many types of injury or disorders that affect the feet. At Art of Wellness near Santa Monica, we have 30 years of experience helping people stay active and on their toes.



*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

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How to Treat Ataxia With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

ataxia muscle weakness
Ataxia causes muscle weakness.

Ataxia is a general term that covers many conditions involving muscle weakness or lack of coordination. Ataxia causes can include: infections, neurological disorders, degenerative brain disease or tumors, some autoimmune disorders, stroke, or alcohol addiction. Acupuncture can help with the muscular weakness and balance problems of cerebellar ataxia and sensory ataxia.

Ataxia can affect the limbs, leading to difficulty with balance and walking. It can also affect the muscles involved in speech, chewing and swallowing, and eye movements.

Different types of Ataxia include:

  1. Cerebellar ataxia – The most common types of ataxia are related to some sort of problem with the cerebellum, the part of the brain in the back of the head, which regulates muscle activity, balance, and equilibrium. Damage or dysfunction of the cerebellum can also cause tremors and difficulty in judging distance (dysmetria).
  2. Sensory ataxia – Ataxia may also happen due to issues with other parts of the brain and nervous system, such as damage to the somatosensory nerve, the brain stem, posterior lobe, cerebral cortex, the spinal cord, or the peripheral nerve. These kinds of ataxia can affect the gait and walking.
  3. Vestibular ataxia – Inner ear problems can cause ataxia that affects balance and can cause vertigo, dizziness, nausea.
  4. Hereditary ataxias – While they are rare, some people are born with hereditary forms of ataxia. These are classified as autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive, and they may begin to show up at any point in life. These types of ataxia are usually degenerative, meaning the symptoms are chronic and get worse over time. Autosomal dominant ataxias used to be called “Marie’s ataxia,“ and autosomal recessive ataxias used to be called “Friedrich’s ataxia.”

Ataxia may be acute or chronic, with symptoms that last for hours, days, weeks, or years, depending on the root cause. An infection, for example, could cause a temporary episode of ataxia. Ataxia can be triggered by an autoimmune flare-up.

Acupuncture and other TCM modalities are uniquely helpful for all kinds of neurological problems, including ataxia symptoms. Acupuncture can help to restore communications between parts of the nervous system and repair damaged nerve cells.

Top 10 Causes of Ataxia:

ataxia muscle weakness
Ataxia can impair motor function and spatial awareness.

Ataxia can be caused by a wide variety of health issues that affect the brain and nervous system:

  1. Stroke, brain aneurysm
  2. Brain tumor or lesions on the spinal cord
  3. Alcohol abuse
  4. Some medications or chemotherapy
  5. Toxins, heavy metal poisoning
  6. Severe vitamin deficiency
  7. Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroid problems
  8. Multiple Sclerosis
  9. Celiac Disease
  10. Encephalomyelitis (Chronic fatigue syndrome, ME/CFS) 

Ataxia can also result from serious infections like Lyme disease, Chickenpox, HIV, or COVID-19.

The severity and duration of ataxia symptoms can vary, depending on the cause of ataxia, and the type.

Medical Diagnosis and Treatment for Ataxia

It can be challenging to get a clear diagnosis when a person shows symptoms of Ataxia. Testing for Ataxia often involves performing the Romberg Test. This is a fairly simple, physical test, often used by both doctors to measure a person’s balance and coordination. It is sometimes used by police officers to determine if someone is under the influence of alcohol. 

The patient undergoing examination stands in various positions, closing and opening the eyes, and shaking the head from side to side. The changes in their ability to balance and maintain their position can help a doctor quantify their equilibrium in order to diagnose sensory ataxia, or vestibular ataxia, for instance. It can also help determine if a patient suffers from vertigo.

Other physical testing involves studying a person’s gait, or mode of walking. A person with sensory ataxia, for example, often demonstrates a particularly heavy, high-stepping gait due to the lack of sensation of the bottoms of their feet when they touch the ground.

Blood tests, spinal tap testing, or MRI imaging may show if ataxia is due to some sort of damage to the brain or spinal cord, or if there are lesions, tumors, or possibly some sort of infection causing the problem.

For most ataxia symptoms, however, there is no specific medical treatment. Patients who are having trouble with walking or moving their hands and facial muscles, may be referred to physical therapy or occupational therapy. Some people will need walkers or other physical aids.

Acupuncture offers a way to help people with all kinds of ataxia to improve their muscle coordination, balance, and other problems.

Can Acupuncture Help Ataxia?

ataxia balance
Acupuncture treatment can help improve balance.

Acupuncture treatment and other TCM modalities are suited to helping patients with all kinds of neurological conditions, by enhancing connections between the brain and the nervous system, and helping to restore the healthy development of nerve and neural cells. For patients with ataxia, this means an improvement in muscle coordination and limb function. Similar to the way that acupuncture helps Bell’s Palsy,Trigeminal Neuralgia, Myasthenia Gravis, and Parkinson’s, it may be able to improve eye problems and problems with eating due to nerve damage.

One case study followed a man who had suffered a stroke and was experiencing sensory ataxia. After regular rehab, he regained some of his muscular strength, but still had trouble with balance and perception. Acupuncture helped him regain his sense of spatial awareness and coordination of his lower limbs.

Another study found that acupuncture treatment helped increase connectivity between different parts of the brain and motor function in patients who were recovering from a stroke.

Formulations of traditional Chinese herbs are also a key part of TCM treatment for ataxia. 

Tai Chi movement practice can also benefit people with ataxia, promoting better dynamic balance.

Acupuncture Near Me for Ataxia in West Los Angeles

Conditions like ataxia can be difficult to treat with conventional medicine. Neurological disorders, autoimmune disorders, stroke recovery, the long-term effects of a serious infection; these are all situations in which a person may be helped by trying acupuncture and TCM as an alternative or adjunct to traditional treatment. Drs. Tan and Cai at Art of Wellness in Los Angeles, CA have over 30 years of experience helping people regain muscular strength and motor function.



 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

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