Hallux valgus acupuncture

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

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Acupuncture has been observed in some uncontrolled studies to have the following effects:

• a relaxing effect on muscle

• an anti-inflammatory effect

Acupuncture has been used to treat the pain of hallux valgus. Hallux valgus is the medical term for bunion.

Seven female patients presented with severe pain and walking difficulty due to bilateral hallux valgus; 6 had inflamed and infected skin. The condition was present for 3 to 16 years and all were scheduled for surgery. SP 4 and 5 were needled with 3 painful points above, lateral and medial to the bunion where insertion went into periosteum of the bunion.

This is painful, so needles were not manipulated but left in for 30 minutes. Seven to 16 weekly sessions were used. After a few sessions, result was excellent to moderate in 4 patients. Three years following treatment, results were excellent to good in 5, and moderate in 2 patients. Surgery was cancelled for all.(Sternfeld M, Finkelstein Y, Eliraz A, Barzilai N, Hod I. Symptomatic improvement and anatomical regression of arthritic hallux valgus deformity (bunion) treated by acupuncture. Am J Acupuncture. 1992;20:9-12).

Comment: A painful treatment with many sessions (the majority had 16) required. However, surgery is not without pain and complications and often does not relieve the entire situation, and is also expensive.

Bottom line: Acupuncture is probably effective; for this problem, it is also fairly painful.

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