Diane's Story

A integrative medicine specialist showing acupuncture with foot model.

Anyone who has suffered from foot pain knows that it brings a particular kind of burden. Any bodily pain is bad, but since nearly everyone stands and walks, foot pain can be unrelenting and excruciating.

And who can stay off their feet for any length of time to alleviate it?

Four years ago, Diane O'Connor, a former Highland Heights resident, had severe and constant pain in her left foot. “I couldn't even take a few steps in my house without tennis shoes on," she says.

Diane, then 50, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, which is not uncommon in the foot. Hers was based between the joint of the big toe and the foot bone, where cartilage can break down from mechanical wear-and-tear. Often, but not always, this happens to very fit people who have been runners or walkers; Diane had been a runner and walker.

First Recommendation: Surgery

Since the cartilage serves as a protective cover and cushion for the ends of the bones that form a joint, its depletion results in a lot of pain. So Diane went to see an orthopedic specialist, who at her first appointment immediately recommended surgery.

But as Diane knew, surgery would mean completely staying off her foot for three months; she was told it would be six months before she could resume normal activities.

“I just couldn't do that," she said.

Then Diane attended an informational event held by the UH Connor Integrative Health Network, where she learned about acupuncture as a treatment for pain.

“I'd always been interested in a holistic approach to healing," she says. “I didn't like to use medication, and I wondered about acupuncture." Based on what she learned, she made an appointment at UH Connor, with Lina Sbrocco, LAc, ND, a naturopathic doctor and one of several licensed acupuncturists on staff.

Acupuncture, Diet Changes Help

“I went to her for several sessions and the pain really lessened," Dianesays. “At first, I went twice a week and then weekly. After every session, there was less pain. After that, I signed up for group acupuncture, which is very affordable." 

Group acupuncture sessions – which still provide privacy to each patient – cost about one-third of a one-on-one acupuncture appointment, which might cost $100.

Ms. Sbrocco, who also offers Wellness consultations at Connor, recommended Diane follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Since arthritis is an inflammatory disease, eating mostly non-inflammatory foods (lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil) is believed to be beneficial.

“I'm a pretty healthy eater – I'd much rather have a big salad than eat meat," Diane says. But she found even more ways to add healthful foods to her diet, as well as some supplements, from Ms. Sbrocco.

Diane says she has given up running, but still enjoys walking and cross-training for exercise. She recently moved out of state because of her husband's job transfer, and is now looking for a licensed acupuncturist in her new hometown.