TCM Sports Medicine:”Ice for an Injury, How Could It Be So?”

 

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?” ~ Dr. Seuss

Now, Dr. Seuss isn’t a sports medicine physician but if you ever find yourself sitting with an ice pack on an injury you should be asking yourself, “Why, WHY?”. Read more.

Bunions: More Information From A Chinese Medicine Perspective

More About Bunions!

I have received many e-mails about my bunion blog with questions about how to circumvent the combined procedures I recommended to properly address bunions. Look at it this way. You wouldn’t ask a brain surgeon to eliminate important procedures to save time or cut costs, would you?

Temporary pain relief can be gained by following one or another of my recommendations but, I’d like to explain in more detail the vital importance of each as part of a combined therapy.

First, let’s review. A bunion is a deformity characterized by lateral deviation of the great toe, often erroneously described as an enlargement of bone or tissue around the joint at the head of the big toe (metatarso-phalangeal joint).

Diagram B

There is disagreement among medical professionals about the cause of bunions; some see them as primarily caused by the long-term use of shoes, particularly tight-fitting shoes with pointed toes, while others believe that the problem stems from genetic factors that are exacerbated by simply wearing shoes.

People from cultures that do not wear shoes do not get bunions!

 

How Bunions Occur From a Chinese Medical Perspective

Neck 1All muscles including the muscles that hold the bones of the foot in place may weaken due to the inability of the Spleen to properly nourish muscle. Arches fall as a result of weakened muscles and the toes begin to “spread out”. When feet are repeatedly forced into shoes that used to fit, deformity occurs.

Headboundskull

As the toes spread out they become “molded” by the shoes in a process that occurs slowly over time.

The lack of circulation and irritation in the local area from walking in shoes that no longer fit properly results in a “bunion”.

The “bump” itself is partly due to the inflamed and swollen bursa. The largest part of the bump is the distal head of the first metatarsal bone where it joins with the proximal phalange which has been projected laterally to cause its protrusion. In cases where poor systemic blood circulation is an issue, mineral deposits can form in the area enlarging the joint and lending to stiffness and persistent pain.  Similar deposits often occur in other joints of the hands or feet. Left without treatment this situation can cause the joint(s) to become immobile. The described deformity of the foot can occur over such a long period of time that it is not noticeable until it is causing intense and frequent pain. At that point, it is imperative to obtain properly fitting shoes.

FallenArch

One function of the Spleen in Chinese Medicine is to nourish the muscle and tissues that “hold things up and in place”. In these terms, it means that the Spleen is responsible for preventing the weakness of muscle and tissues that cause typically result in hernias, hemorrhoids, prolapsed uterus or bladder, rectal prolapse and varicose veins. So, if you have bunions you may have an imbalance that can cause other problems. Some of the symptoms of Spleen Qi Deficiency might include extreme sleepiness after meals, heaviness and lethargy, easy bruising, loose stools, a gassy and bloated feeling after eating, other digestive problems.

Often Spleen Qi Deficiency is seen in combination with an imbalance specifically related to a   deficiency of the Kidneys. So, it is not uncommon for bunions to accompany kidney stones or diabetes.

What’s the worst that can happen?

When standing, the feet support the weight of the entire body and act as the foundation for other structures. The body is a living structure. As such, it will adjust in the attempt to compensate for structural deficiencies.

When a building starts crumbling at its foundation the rest of the building will follow suit. But, the damage is not confined to only the area where the foundation caves in. The visible damage spreads to the ceiling and walls of various parts of the house because the beams and other support structures connected to the foundation shift.  Over time, a similar reaction can occur in the human body.

Problems

How Chinese Medicine Addresses Bunions (or any other ailment)

Chinese Medicine considers the body as a functioning whole; not individual parts. All areas must be addressed with equal importance to achieve the most desirable effect. My initial recommendations for effective treatment of bunions were made with this in mind.

My Personal Therapeutic Recommendations for Bunions

This combination of therapies is what I recommend because I’ve tried other ways and this is what I’ve found to be the most effective therapy for bunions… so far.

Moxibustion Moxa Zigarre

Moxa in stick form is applied to the Spleen meridian of both feet and ankles for up to an hour paying extra attention to an acupuncture point known as Spleen 3. Moxa is one of the best therapies for bunions. Its warming action “activates” the Spleen meridian and restores flexibility to tendons. The heat promotes the movement of stagnant Blood and Qi away from the area allowing fresh Qi and Blood to revitalize the local area and stimulate the anatomic Spleen.

 

Asian Bodywork Therapyfootsies

In combination with other therapies, expert manual manipulation serves to restore proper circulation and placement of the toes while improving flexibility and range of motion. Certain techniques can be employed to separate muscle fibers to permit nourishing fluids to permeate areas where blood flow has become restricted due to poor circulation. Cumulative deposits of minerals which may impede movement and cause sharp pain can be located easily, gently disintegrated and reincorporated into the circulatory system and properly eliminated with the help of recommended adjunct therapies. Only a trained professional can reposition the toes and facilitate proper movement without causing injury.


TigerToothTopical herbs

I abundantly recommend application of one of my specially formulated liniments (Tiger Tooth) to strongly move Qi and Blood to reduce the pain and inflammation of bunions. This particular liniment works immediately to alleviate pain. Prolonged and proper use has profound healing effects for any injury. Formulas with similar properties are mentioned on the internet in many articles. They do not work nearly as well.

herbs 1

 

Diet and Internal herbs

Cold foods, raw foods and processed sugar are really, really bad for the Spleen. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan is the traditional base formula administered to nourish the Spleen in the event body structures are “sagging” or out of place due to lack of nutrition being provided to the muscles. Modifications to this formula can be made by a knowledgeable herbalist to address the specific health needs of any individual. Increasing the daily intake of water assists in removing mineral deposits built up in the affected joints.

 

Orthotics

Arch Correction

What I’ve seen people purchase most often to provide temporary relief are cushions of various kinds, a myriad of “splinting” devices and arch supports. These devices may certainly help lessen pain between Asian Bodywork Therapy sessions and will contribute to the long term therapeutic effect; however, there is no amount of liniment, herbs or energy work that will support the weight of your body until your foot heals. You must have a structural support!

A pedorthist can determine if other deformities are prevalent and provide appropriate foot care advice.

“Certified Pedorthist” is the title of a specialist educated in the use of footwear and supportive devices to address conditions which affect the feet and lower limbs. They are trained in the assessment of lower limb anatomy and bio-mechanics, and the appropriate use of corrective footwear including shoes, shoe modifications, foot orthoticsand other pedorthic devices. There is absolutely no need to waste hundreds of dollars on ugly shoes and “off-the-shelf” orthotics. Many “off-the-shelf” orthotic products may suit your needs and your budget but, it’s best to have a professional make that determination. In the United States, there are a number of states requiring professional licensure. See the State Licensure Map.

Chinese Medicine for Bunions

“Can Asian Bodywork Therapy and Chinese Medicine help my bunions?”

I often get asked how Asian Bodywork Therapy and Chinese Medicine can help a condition that surgery has been recommended for. Bunions and hernias are two common examples.  Let’s discuss bunions from a Chinese Medicine point of view.

Many people struggle to make associations between the foundations of Chinese Medicine and Western medical principles as they have come to be understood. The easiest read on the subject is Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold. Chinese Medicine originated thousands of years ago. No x-rays. No blood tests. It’s “Duh!” simplistic in theory, but it works.

Chinese Medicine Cause of Bunions 

From a Chinese Medicine point of view my definition of a bunion is as follows:

A “bunion” is a localized area of pain, swelling, redness on the foot directly resulting from the combination of: a deviation of the big toe (or any toe) possibly involving other structural deformities of the foot due to a weakness of muscle and connective tissue caused by a deficiency related to the Spleen organ and wearing improperly fitting shoes.

All muscles  including the muscles that hold the bones of the foot in place may weaken due to the inability of the Spleen to properly nourish the muscles. Due to this deficiency the arches fall and the toes begin to “spread out”. As the toes  spread out they become “molded” by the shoes. The lack of circulation and irritation in the affected area results in a bunion. The described deformity of the foot can occur over such a long period of time that it is not noticable until it is causing frequent pain. At that point, it is most important to wear properly fitting shoes.

A function of the Spleen in Chinese Medicine is to nourish the muscle and tissues that “hold things up and in place”. In these terms, it means that the Spleen is responsible for preventing the weakness of muscle and tissues that cause typically result in hernias, hemorrhoids, prolapsed uterus or bladder, rectal prolapse and varicose veins. So, if you have bunions you may have an imbalance that can cause other problems. Some of the symptoms might include extreme sleepiness after meals, heaviness and lethargy, easy bruising, loose stools, gassy and bloated feeling after eating, other digestive problems.

Often Spleen Qi deficiency is seen in combination with an imbalance specifically related to a deficiency of the Kidneys. So, it is not uncommon for bunions to accompany kidney stones or diabetes.

Qi & Blood

First, for the purposes of this discussion, “Qi”, pronounced “chee”, refers to the “vital energy” in all living things. In a healthy body Qi flows harmoniously and influences the smooth and even distribution of Blood. Obstructions to the flow of either are seen as a cause of illness.

Secondly, “Blood” spelled with a capital “B”, is the closest and most commonly used word to describe all of the liquids of the body in Chinese Medicine. The capitalized term is meant to distinguish between the blood of the circulatory system and all other vital fluids.

Human beings have an ideal operating temperature. If the body is too cold the movement of Qi and Blood will be sluggish. If the body is too hot in areas Qi and Blood will congeal causing disruptions to proper flow. The therapeutic measure of “moving Qi and Blood” in the area of the bunion and in the affected organs simultaneously removes blockages, dissipates heat accumulations, and restores healthy bodily functions. Similarly,circulating coolant in your car’s cooling system keeps the entire engine running properly at an ideal temperature. When the coolant in your car is not circulating properly or is of insufficient quantity, other parts of the engine overheat causing the oil to congeal and burn creating friction and even more heat eventually resulting in engine failure. Conversely, when an engine is cold not all components are functioning at their peak. The same thing happens physiologically to people.  

Yin and Yang

Chinese Medicine dictates that there is a law governing opposing forces that exists in every aspect of nature. This concept is referred to as Yin and Yang. “Yin” could be described as dark, passive, downward, cold, contracting and weak. “Yang” is said to represent bright, active, upward, hot, expansive and strong. That being said, the type of deficiency leading to bunions creates an excess elsewhere in the body and can manifest as either a Yin or Yang condition with Yin or Yang symptoms.

As a result of Spleen Qi deficiency, Blood cannot circulate properly to the extremities and provide nourishment to muscles and tendons. We can look at the emerging symptoms in terms of Yin and Yang or, deficiency and excess.

A Yin aspect can be seen as lack of proper nourishment leads to weakness in the muscles and tendons of the foot and may present as pronation, fallen arches or plantar fasciitis. This weakness in the muscles and tendons of the foot can lead to a variety of foot deformities including those responsible for the formation of bunions.

An Yang type set of symptoms (acute redness, localized heat, swelling, pain) could be characterized in Western medical terms as gout. Limited circulation of Blood allows mineral deposits to accumulate in the lower extremities the same way that silt settles to a river bottom. Over time deposits of calcium and other minerals can become hard causing sharp pain and limiting movement of joints.

My Personal Therapeutic Recommendations for Bunions

This combination of therapies is what I recommend because I’ve tried other ways and this is what I’ve found to be the most effective… so far.

Moxibustion. Moxa in stick form is applied to the Spleen meridian of both feet and ankles for at least 1 hour paying extra attention to an acupuncture point known as Spleen 3. What is moxa?  Google “moxibustion”.  Moxa is one of the best therapies for bunions. Its warming action “activates” the affected channel, in this case the Spleen channel, by initiating the movement of stagnant Blood and Qi in the local area and stimulating Spleen function.

Asian Bodywork Therapy. In combination with other therapies, expert manual manipulation serves to restore proper circulation and placement of the toes while improving flexibility and range of motion. Certain techniques can be employed to separate muscle fibers to permit nourishing fluids to permeate areas where blood flow has become restricted due to poor circulation. Cumulative deposits of minerals which may impede movement and cause sharp pain can be located easily, gently disintegrated and reincorporated into the circulatory system and properly eliminated with the help of recommended adjunct therapies. Amount of daily water intake is increased as part of a regimen to assist in removing this “waste” material from the body.

An effective therapy session takes about 2 hours.

Topical herbs. I recommend application of one of my specially made liniments (Tiger Tooth) to strongly move Qi and Blood to reduce pain and inflammation.  My liniment works immediately to alleviate pain and prolonged and proper use has profound healing effects for all injuries.  Other formulas are mentioned in many articles. They do not work nearly as well.

Diet and Internal herbs. Occasionally, I will recommend a few dietary changes. I can help isolate which foods may be contributing to a problem in individual cases, and determine foods that will benefit recovery. Cold foods, raw foods and processed sugar are BAD for the Spleen. Additionally, I may recommend Chinese herbs as a supplement to one’s diet to reinforce the benefits of other therapeutic methods. I provide these supplements in pill form because they are the most convenient to take.

Orthotics

What I’ve seen used the most are cushions of various kinds and a myriad of “splinting” devices and arch supports to temporarily make the situation less painful. These devices certainly help lessen pain between Asian Bodywork Therapy sessions and contribute to the long term therapeutic effect.

A foot specialist can determine if other deformities are prevalent and provide appropriate advice. For assistance in orthotic selection I recommend you see a certified pedorthist. In San Antonio, Texas I recommend a consultation with a pedorthist at Foot Solutions.

“What Else Can I Do?”

1.)    Drink more water- the best quality water available. Water is essential in cleansing waste material from the body. If you don’t drink enough water waste material has a tendency to accumulate in the body. Eight 8oz. glasses per day is a good general guideline.

2.)    Wear properly fitting shoes. Have your feet properly measured if it hasn’t been done recently. Children’s feet should be measured frequently to prevent future foot problems. Arch supports can help prevent the falling of arches that can progress to form bunions.

3.)    Be proactive about taking care of your feet. Inspect your feet on a regular basis especially if you’re predisposed to foot problems. Immediately address any abnormalities.

Don’t wait until you have something that looks like this!

4.)    Don’t ever put ice on bunions. The application of ice to an injury directly opposes the natural healing process. Ice impedes circulation which prevents healing. Ask me about my Tiger Tooth Liniment.

“Does Chinese Medicine therapy completely cure bunions?”

The theory behind the therapy is sound and I’ve seen significant relief in as little as one session. After the first two sessions at Sacred Healing Tree and advice on home care, many people are so relieved they feel that ongoing sessions are not necessary and surgery can be avoided. Even if complicated by arthritis or other complaints, Chinese Medicine is a viable alternative to surgery for bunions.

New Clinic Open at 12402 Toepperwein, Live Oak TX 78233

Sacred Healing Tree located at 12402 Toepperwein Road in Live Oak, TX 78233 will be providing services in the form of Traditional Chinese Medicine only without the use of acupuncture needles. Hope you’ll come by and see!

Open Sundays for appointments! Open Monday thru Thursday until 8 p.m. by appointment.