When I first strained my ankle, my doctor recommended the standard treatment techniques, or should I say REST. REST is short for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These four techniques help to significantly reduce the present pain, swelling, and inflammation in your ankle area.
But you know how interested I am for alternative medicine. So as soon as my doctor diagnosed me with a sprained ankle, I called up my acupuncture practitioner and scheduled a session. Here is what he told me and everything that you need to know about acupuncture for a sprained ankle.
The Benefits Of Using Acupuncture For A Sprained Ankle
Dealing with a sprained ankle can be quite uncomfortable. Luckily, the benefits of acupuncture for a sprained ankle are some great ones. Regular acupuncture can help with issues such as pain, swelling, inflammation, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. A lot of the time, even after the ankle has returned to normal, the patient continues to experience the same symptoms. That, my friends, is what is happening to me too. Luckily, I found acupuncture and acupressure helpful.
What gave me the idea that I should use acupuncture was a 2019 study. As a part of this study, the researchers were investigating the effects and potential risks of acupuncture for a sprained ankle. The results showed that acupuncture is an effective alternative method to the usual over-the-counter pain relievers. Since it is a natural treatment, it also reduces the risk of experiencing any side-effects linked to pain-killers and medications used to relieve the symptoms of a sprained ankle.
Acupuncture works both directly and indirectly to soothe the present inflammation. The first signs of pain relief are felt after only a few minutes. It provokes a release of histamine, which reduces the number of inflammatory agents present on site. In the following days, you continue to experience the anti-inflammatory effects to which the use of acupuncture has led. Acupuncture seems to be an effective treatment for even the worst ankle sprains of them all. Even when there is ligament damage in grade 2 and 3 sprains, acupuncture can help relieve the majority of the symptoms and encourage recovery.
Using Acupressure For A Sprained Ankle At Home
Scheduling a session of acupuncture can be highly beneficial. But this is not possible for everyone. That is why I recommend enjoying a session of acupressure instead. In the following, I will be sharing the same acupoints that my practitioner once shared with me. I fell in love with at-home acupressure and the relief that it brought upon.
Whenever I was not able to schedule an acupuncture session, I would be practicing acupressure alone, at home. Because it helped me greatly, and I do not want to keep all of this useful information just for myself. So here they are – the amazing acupoints that will help speed up your recovery.
1. Acupoint: GB-40 (Other Names: Gallbladder-40/Qiu Xu/Mound of Ruins)
The GB-40 acupoint can be located near the external malleolus. It is found anterior and inferior to this malleolus, in the depression of the nearby tendon. Stimulating the GB-40 can help against swollen ankles, numbness, and pain in the lower extremities, especially the feet. It represents one of the essential ankle meridian points and, as such, is highly recommended to those interested in acupuncture for a sprained ankle.
An important thing to know is that in case of a sprained ankle, you would not stimulate the GB-40 on the affected ankle. Instead, you will be stimulating the GB-40 on the opposite leg. As much as confusing this may sound, applying any pressure in the area of the affected joint would only increase the pain, especially in the early stages of the injury. This was one of the first things that my practitioner explained while talking about GB-40. Not to worry, you will still gain the benefits that we discussed. Apply mild pressure a couple of times a day in the duration between 10-20 seconds. Use your thumb for the best effects.
2. Acupoint: SP-5 (Other Names: Spleen-5/Shang Qiu/Shang Mound)
Moving towards the medial malleolus, you will be able to locate the SP-5 acupoint. Use your thumb to move inferior to the medial malleolus, looking for the midpoint between the characteristic tuberosity of the navicular bone and the medial malleolus. It is here that you will find the SP-5 acupoint.
Like the GB-40, the SP-5 promises to relieve some of that ankle pain and swelling. Again, follow the previous instructions and avoid stimulating the GB-40 on the affected foot right after you have sustained the injury. Instead, stimulate the GB-40 on your other foot. Start by stimulating the GB-40 acupoint a couple of times a day, for 20 seconds using your thumb.
3. Acupoint: Bl-60 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-60/Kun Lun/Kunlun Mountains)
Behind your external malleolus, you will find the Bl-60 acupoint. This acupoint is located in the depression between the tip of your external malleolus and your calcaneus tendon. For a more precise picture, you will find the Bl-60 behind your external malleolus. When stimulated through acupuncture and/or acupressure, the BI-60 relieves swelling and pain present in the heel.
This is an important acupoint because a lot of the time, whenever there is a sprained ankle, swelling, and pain in the heel are present as well. I was instructed to stimulate the BI-60 acupoint for up to 1 minute, again using the thumbs. Remember to stay on your healthy foot until your doctor gives you the sign that it is safe to proceed to treat the BI-60 on your affected foot. This is also one of the commonly stimulated points using a TENS machine that helps relieve pain. By using acupressure, stimulate this acupoint anywhere between 10-20 seconds.
4. Acupoint: KI-3 (Other Names: Kidney-3/Tai Xi/Supreme Stream)
Now move towards the posterior to your medial malleolus. Here you will locate the KI-3 acupoint. Palpate the depression between your medial malleolus and the calcaneus tendon. This is the KI-3 acupoint that will help treat heel and ankle pain. Stimulating this acupoint, in combination with the BI-60, will help greatly against any heel pain and swelling that you have been experiencing. Once again, use your thumb to apply light pressure for 5-10 seconds.
5. Acupoint: ST-41 (Other Names: Stomach-41/Jie Xi/Stream Divide)
Leaving the two malleoli, we now move towards the dorsum of the foot. Our goal here is to stimulate the ST-41 acupoint. The ST-41 can be found at the junction of the dorsum, around the midpoint of the transverse crease of your ankle. As ancient texts explain, daily stimulation of this acupoint can help resolve a great deal of ankle and foot-related issues.
Pain, weakness, numbness, and even muscular atrophy of the foot can all be solved by regularly stimulating the ST-41. Make sure that you apply pressure a couple of times a day, for 5-10 seconds. Treat the ST-41 on both of your feet, but as usual, avoid stimulating the acupoint found on your affected foot.
6. Acupoint: ST-36 (Other Names: Stomach-36/Zu San Li/Leg Three Miles)
And last but not least important is the ST-36 acupoint. Leaving the ankle meridian points, we move towards the knee. Here, on the shin, we get to stimulate one of the greatest acupoints for ankle pain relief. The ST-36 acupoint is located on the anterior of your shin. Use your middle finger to locate the anterior crest of the tibia. The ST-36 is approximately one finger-breadth away from this crest. Another way to locate the acupoint is to put your hand as shown in the diagram above. While your thumb rests on the depression below your knee cap, your little finger is pointing at ST-36.
To apply pressure, your use thumb. The majority of its beneficial effects are related to the digestive system. But, despite that and the fact that this acupoint is pretty far away from the foot, it is still helpful when facing ankle pain and swelling. It can still help soothe some of the present swelling and pain, as well as stop the pain from spreading towards the knee. Its stimulation is short, between 4-5 seconds, but highly effective and recommended.
I hope that you will use what I have learned about acupuncture for a sprained ankle to your advantage. Even when you do not have the money or time to visit a professional, you can still practice acupressure at home and relieve some of the symptoms. Carefully locate and apply pressure on the selected acupoints and enjoy the benefits that are to come.