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Sharp stabbing pain in foot following acupuncture



I recently received acupuncture for the first time as exploratory alternative treatment of suspected rheumatoid arthritis..

Following the session, I had no pain, but about 6 hours later I woke in the night with sharp stabbing pain from between the web area of my big toe and second toe, and across the top of my big toe like lightning. I have now had this pain for over 24 hours despite gentle massage and hot baths and find it unbearable to walk on or move my big toe at all.

I advised and showed the acupuncturist xrays and details of the screw I have from a very old injury (which has never caused me any pain before) and worryingly, the pain is in exactly the same area but at a different level (the pain is along the top of the toe, the screw is perpendicular to the line of the shooting pain, through the middle of my toe)

Could somebody please indicate what they think the problem could be (hopefully not nerve damage, although that's what it feels like?) and even more importantly, what I can do to heal it and what actions I should take. Obviously, I'm very concerned that this could potentially be permanent damage, having experienced no relief in 24 hours and not knowing enough about it.

I would really appreciate your time and consideration,

Thank you!


Please read this response to a previous poster.


Thanks Chad, I have actually read a vast number of posts but everyone else seemed to experience pain at the time of the insertion of the needle, whereas I experienced the pain some hours later. I also did not experience any pins and needles, aches and pains or general sore areas but have just one very small specific area where I have lightning bolt pain...sorry to bother you but do you have any other suggestions as to what it might be? Thanks so much!

p.s.I appreciate that this kind of experience is rare as several of my friends have been going for years and have never had any problems...which is why i&#39m worried about my particular experience.


I think it is still the same issue. There is a small chance that the nerve can be irritated at certain acupuncture points and what I&#39m assuming from your description the point used, LV 3, is one of those points where this can happen with excessively deep needling. I don&#39t think this has anything to do with the surgical hardware unless the practitioner did some really deep and strong tuina massage. Usually these types of things clear right up over a few days. I suppose there is a chance that by loosening tension in the area (i.e. from the treatment) some of the soft tissue may have shifted and got locked up near the surgical implant and that just happens to come into contact with the nerve but in my mind that would be a more constant pain than what it sounds like you are experiencing and it&#39s a possibly but one in the million occurence... What I can tell you for certain is that "lightning" bolts of pain nearly exclusively come from nerve pain so somehow that nerve is being irritated.

I would recommend seeing your practitioner again or a practitioner that also does tuina massage and have them loosen the calf all the way down into the foot and use points such as LV 2 (or 3) whichever the previous practitioner didn&#39t do, SP 3, SP 4. And see if it doesn&#39t resolve quickly.

On your own you could do calf stretches and massage the bottom of the foot anywhere where it doesn&#39t make the pain worse and then massage -around- the area where you feel the most pain.


Thank you so much Chad - for putting my mind at rest...after about 3 days of massage, hot baths and rest the pain went as quickly as it came (literally overnight), so I suppose that it was related to the soft tissue caused by my prior injury, seeing as it was so close to the area...I really appreciate you putting my mind at rest so thanks again!

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