Acupuncture For Swollen Ankles: Best 7 Acupressure Points You Can Use At Home

Swollen ankles are common issues that may not cause you a lot of concern, especially if you’ve been standing in one place for a long time. However, certain swollen ankles are not normal and may be signs of serious health conditions. Whichever the case is, acupuncture for swollen ankles is a cure to all causes of swollen ankles that saves you from visiting the doctor.

Before I proceed to discuss the different acupressure points for swollen ankle, let me show you the different ways you can get a swollen ankle. One of the most popular cases of swollen ankles is edema. This is a medical condition whereby fluids are trapped in your body’s tissues, causing the feet to swell. Although it occurs mostly on the legs, edema could also affect your face and abdomen.

Injury sustained on the foot or ankle could also cause your ankle to swell. For example, when you sprain your ankle, the resultant overstretched ligaments cause your foot to swell. Another cause of swollen foot is pregnancy, and pregnancy is a natural cause of ankle swelling that is caused by fluid retention and increased pressure on the veins. For some women, this is bound to happen as the pregnancy progresses.

Venous insufficiency is another cause of swollen ankles. This is a medical condition whereby the blood that moves upward from the leg to the heart is insufficient. This mostly occurs when the one-way valves that transport blood from the foot to the heart get damaged. Infections are also another sure cause of swollen ankles and feet. Some conditions like diabetic neuropathy make you susceptible to infections, so it’s important to inspect your feet regularly for blisters if you are diabetic.

Sometimes, it can prove challenging to decide the cause of your swollen foot, leading you to seek medical attention. However, stimulating the acupressure points for ankle pain and swelling that I’ll be sharing in this article at the first sign of a swollen ankle will go a long way to treating you and bringing you back to your jolly good self.

Can Acupuncture Cause Swollen Ankles?

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

It is unheard of for acupuncture to cause swollen ankles. The side effects of acupuncture treatment are usually beneficial to the body. This includes improved sleep, better rest, increased energy, enhanced digestion, less stress, and mental clarity. Although some people have experienced symptoms like fatigue, soreness, twitching muscles, and lightheadedness from the administration of acupuncture, a swollen ankle is never one of them. On the contrary, acupuncture can help swollen ankles that are a result of stagnant Qi or deficient spleen or kidney. There is also acupressure for swollen hands if your hands are swollen.

What Acupressure Points Are Good For Edema In Calves And Ankles?

The acupressure points that are used for edema in the calves and ankles depend on the organ responsible for the edema. You would use acupuncture points that are responsible for the spleen, lungs, and kidney, as these are acupoints related to water. Remember that edema is the accumulation of fluids in the body cells or intercellular tissues. In most cases, it is best to treat edema with cold sensitivity using acupressure for edema in the legs.

According to recent research, acupoint ST-36 (Zulsani) and SP-6 (Sanyinjiao) significantly improve the symptoms of edema. This research, which was carried out on three groups – the control group, the acupuncture group (Acp), and the acupuncture and moxibustion group (Acp-Mox) – found that the skin temperature in the Acp and Acp-Mox groups significantly increased compared to the control group. This proved that acupuncture and moxibustion are effective in improving the symptoms of edema.

Can Acupuncture Help Swollen Ankles?

Acupuncture is, in fact, the appropriate treatment for swollen ankles. This is because it assists in the reduction of fluid retention in the body and encourages the smooth flow of blood and fluid throughout the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the most common kind of swelling is the type that happens in the lower body and is accompanied by cold limbs. This kind of swelling reduces water metabolism, which is because the fire momentum(yang) is not sufficient to boil water in the body, making it difficult for water to evaporate.

When this is not the case, such swelling in the ankles can be a result of weak immunity, weak gastrointestinal function, irregular menstruation, loose stool, and malaise. Irrespective of the cause of the swelling on the feet and ankles, the following acupressure points for swollen feet will take care of it.

Acupoint: ST-25 (Other Names: Stomach-25/Tian Shu/Celestial Pivot)

ST-25 is the first acupuncture for swollen ankles. It is located on the stomach, about a finger and half-width beside the belly button. Despite the location of this acupoint, it is very effective for treating swollen ankles.

In Alternative medicine, ST-25 functions as a regulator of the spleen, stomach, and intestines. It is responsible for dispelling dampness and heat and regulating the Qi and Blood. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that this acupoint is also used to relieve irregular menstruation, pain around the belly button, abdominal distention, and constipation. You can also try acupressure for bowel inflammation.

To unlock the healing power of ST-25, locate the acupoint, then massage it in a clockwise circular motion with your index and middle fingers until your stomach is warm.

Acupoint: Ren-4 (Other Names: The Conception Vessel-4/Guan Yuan/Origin Pass)

The next acupuncture for swollen feet and legs is Ren 4. This acupoint is called Guanyuan in Chinese, which means Gate of Origin in English. Like ST-25, Ren 4 is also located on the stomach. You’ll find this acupoint four-finger-width below the belly button.

In TCM, it is the responsibility of Ren-4 to strengthen and nourish the Qi, Ying, and Yang of the kidneys. Ren-4 is also responsible for calming the Shen and solving menstruation and uterus problems. Hence, it is used to bring relief to irregular menstruation, morbid leukorrhea, retention of urine, infertility, and enuresis. Ren-4 also serves as one of the acupressure points for heart valves.

You’ll massage Ren-4 the same way you do ST-25 – in a clockwise circular motion using your middle and index fingers until your stomach is warm.

Acupoint: SP-9 (Other Names: Spleen-9/Yin Ling Quan/Yin Mound Spring)

SP-9 or Yinlingquan, as it is called in English, is the next acupuncture for swollen ankles that you should know about. This spleen meridian acupoint is located in the leg as you would expect all ankle edema acupoints to be located. You’ll find this acupoint on the middle part of your lower, in the depression at the back of the head of the tibia.

The function of SP-9 in TCM is to resolve dampness, regulate the spleen, and allow for smooth passage of water and urine. For this reason, this acupoint is mostly used clinically to treat abdominal distension, dysuria, pain in the medial part of the knee, and edema. You can also use SP-9 as acupuncture for eye bags.

Acupoint: SP-6 (Other Names: Spleen-6/San Yin Jiao/Three Yin Intersection)

Acupoint: SP-6 (Other Names: Spleen-6/San Yin Jiao/Three Yin Intersection)
Acupoint: SP-6 (Other Names: Spleen-6/San Yin Jiao/Three Yin Intersection)

The next acupressure for edema in the legs is SP-6 or Sanyinjiao, as it is called in Chinese. This spleen meridian acupoint is like a brother to SP-9. You’ll still find it on the middle part of the lower leg but closer to the ankle than the knee. It is located above the ankle, four finger-width from the big bone of the ankle.

This acupoint is well suited for pregnant women whose legs swell easily during pregnancy. In addition to helping to reduce swelling in the leg for pregnant women, SP-6 also helps to promote labor, so you have to be careful when pushing this acupoint for pregnant women. For some women, changes in their female hormones also cause swelling swellings. SP-6 is the right acupoint to reduce these swellings. It also serves as acupressure for inflammation.

SP-6 helps to strengthen the spleen, stomach, and kidney as well as nourish the blood. As it is the crossing point of the Spleen, Kidney, and Liver meridians, SP-6 is effective in treating conditions associated with all three organs. Hence, it is used to treat spleen and stomach deficiency, abdominal distention, diarrhea, skin diseases, pain in the penis, leukorrhea, amenorrhea, and even insomnia.

Acupoint: ST-36 (Other Names: Stomach-36/Zu San Li/Leg Three Miles)

Acupoint: ST-36 (Other Names: Stomach-36/Zu San Li/Leg Three Miles)

ST-36, Zusanli, or Leg Three Miles, is the next acupuncture for swollen calves and ankles. This stomach meridian is located at the lower knee. You’ll find it on the anterior muscles of the side of the leg, four finger-width from the base of the knee.

In TCM, Zusanli is very important for its function of balancing Qi and blood and promoting general wellness. It is the acupoint you want to massage when you have issues like knee pain, gastric pain, apoplexy, beriberi, shortness of breath, and of course, edema. It is also one of the acupressure points for stomach inflammation.

Mostly, ST-36 is one of the best acupoints for stopping swelling and weakness of the legs. It has the power to remove waste products that have accumulated in the body.

Acupoint: Bl-56 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-56/Cheng Jin/Sinews Support)

BL-56 is the first bladder meridian acupoint for ankle edema. Chengjin, as it is called in Chinese, is located at the lower leg like most acupressure points for swollen feet. However, you’ll find Bl-56 at the back of the leg. It is located at the top center of the calf, about four finger-width from the center point of the back of the knee.

The muscle on which you’ll find Bl-56 is the gastrocnemius muscle. In TCM, this is the muscle where fatigue accumulates. Therefore, when you massage this acupoint, you relax this muscle, thus promoting the blood flow and circulation in the legs. This will normally reduce swelling and weakness of the leg. It is best to massage this acupoint while having a warm bath.

In addition to treating swollen calves and ankles, Bl-56 is also used clinically to treat hemorrhoids and spasms, and pain in the leg. It also serves as one of the acupressure points for peripheral neuropathy.

Acupoint: Bl-23 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-23/Shen Shu/Kidney Transporter)

Acupoint: Bl-23 Or Ub-23(Other Names: Urinary Bladder-23/Shen Shu/Kidney Transporter)

The last acupuncture for swollen ankles is Bl-23 or Shenshu. Unlike the other bladder acupoint discussed in this article, Bl-23 is located at the lower back, slightly above the waist. You’ll find it on both sides of the second lumbar vertebra, about two finger-with from this vertebra.

Because Bl-23 is located close to the kidney, its major function is to strengthen and nourish the kidney. TCM, the kidney causes swelling when it has aged or is overworked. Based on this function of Bl-23, this acupoint is used clinically to treat enuresis, dysuria, lumbar pain, and edema.

If your back is inflamed, you can also use Bl-23 as acupressure for back inflammation.

Author: P. Sze

P. Sze P. Sze is the founder of TCM Tips and Dragon Acupuncture®. She graduated from the National University of Singapore with a first-class honor in Civil Engineering. S he also holds a master’s degree in Engineering and is the brain behind the innovative TCM products of Dragon Acupuncture®. She is the author of The Beginner's Guide to Auricular Therapy: Application of Ear Seeds (ISBN 978-1520451398) and Facial Gua Sha - Fight the Signs of Aging Naturally and Inexpensively (ISBN 978-1980678922). She has dedicated her life to ensuring that the complex theories behind oriental medicine and the seemingly dangerous techniques that involve needles and fire do not scare you from trying oriental medicine. This is why she writes endlessly about acupressure and its countless health and wellness benefits.

Press ESC to close

Scroll to Top