Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Acupuncture for foot pain

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If you have a hard time with needles, this next story might be hard to watch. But if you've suffered constantly from foot pain, relief could be just a few of those needles away.

By her own confession, Jenna Booth never expected to find herself in Dr. Sally Williams' office for acupuncture treatments. But after running two marathons last summer, Jenna developed plantar fasciitis in her heels and quickly ran out of options.

"I actually had two cortizone shots in each foot but those really didn't work and I tried rolling around a water bottle with my foot and did stretches, slept with night splints, I tried a lot of different things and nothing seemed to work for me." said Booth.

Jenna didn't just want relief, she needed something to allow her to continue training for the biggest race of her life: the Boston Marathon and she needed it fast.

"There was definitely some days where I just thought about throwing in the towel and calling it and maybe trying again another year or another time but deep down I was really wanting to do it." said Booth.

With nothing to lose, she gave Dr. Williams and acupuncture a shot.

"I think acupuncture in this area is sometimes still an overlooked tool or treatment option. I think it's more popular in other countries or other areas of our country but I think it's slowly gaining popularity around here." said Dr. Williams who is an integrative medicine specialist at Avera McKennan.

Following the meridians and the body's own pathways, Dr. Williams places needles in specific points from head to toe. The needles are stimulating Jenna's nervous system to release chemicals and hormones that promote natural healing and balance in her body. Specifically in her feet.

"At first I was kind of hesitant. I was wondering if this was going to work for me. I came pretty consistently for a couple months prior to the marathon and then right before the marathon I started picking it up doing about two or three times a week." said Booth.

Like most people, the biggest issue for Jenna was just getting past all those needles.

"Some people may worry about the idea of using a needle but actually if they could see them, they are more like a thick piece of hair and then people will worry of course that it might hurt but actually the most common response I get is, oh that's it? That's all there is to this?" said Dr. Williams.

With Dr. Williams' help Jenna's foot pain was held in check and on April 20th, Jenna started the 26.2 mile trek through Boston. At the start, she was afraid the pain might come back, but mile after mile, the cheers and her feet carried her to glory.

"I remember somebody saying as soon as you turn the corner on Boylston Street, you can see the finish line so it's all downhill and I remember I saw my family and I saw the finish line and I really thought anything is possible!" said Booth.

When it comes to treatment for pain relief, every patient is different and can react differently. That's why it's important to keep trying methods until you find the one that works for you. In Jenna's case it was acupuncture that not only helped relieve the pain, but helped her realize her dream.

"Almost every day I'm amazed by it and how it works and how it helps people. People will come in here who have tried many other treatments or they've had their pain for a number of different years and this may be the tool that gives them the best relief yet." said Dr. Williams.

In addition to correcting her foot pain Jenna says the 20 minute sessions gave her a chance to relax and unwind. Her plantar fasciitis is gone and she already has her sights set on the next race. For more information about acupuncture and integrative medicine just call 877-AT-AVERA.