Case Study Series

Foot Drop

This is a slightly more unusual condition to see in the clinic, but it demonstrates another area where acupuncture can be helpful. When muscles have atrophied, or nerves have been damaged, this can cause loss of mobility, pins and needles or numbness. These types of problems can respond well to acupuncture.

diagram showing areas of calf tightness and foot drop to be treated with acupuncture

Case Study


Female (54). Developed vasculitis 2 years previously which attacked nerves and muscles in her legs and affected her kidneys. She was in a wheelchair for 7 months. By the time she presented at the clinic, she was able to walk and balance well, but her calves felt short and tight, her achilles tendons were sore and she had reduced sensation in her feet. Her left foot in particular dropped and felt ‘dead’ on the top.


Tui Na massage on back and leg. Acupuncture to release tightness in the calf muscle, improve flow in the front of the lower leg and foot. Also some general points to strengthen the Kidney and digestive systems.


After the first treatment, her calves felt much looser. The improvement lasted around one week.

After the second treatment, the calves stayed loose, some sensation returned in the top of the left foot and foot mobility was improving.

The patient had a total of 5 treatments. By treatment 5 the improvements were holding and she had good sensation in both feet. She had returned to the gym, was able to walk down stairs one foot at a time and was able to do many things that had previously been difficult.

“My foot drop has improved considerably and my calf muscles seem to be tensing and relaxing normally. I certainly don’t have that rigid tightness that I had before I came to you. Thank you for all you did in helping me get my walking back.”

– C.D.

Although not used in this case, electroacupuncture can be great for stimulating the neuromuscular system. It was very effective in another case of foot drop – this time for an 81 year old ex-olympian:

diagram showing areas of calf tightness and foot drop to be treated with acupuncture