We started a new thing in the office last fall and I realized I’d never included it in the blog.  It’s a foot treatment and honestly I thought it was a little strange when The Chiropractor first described it to me (not the first time I’ve had that reaction to something he’s excited about…).  But after trying it myself, and having several patients give positive feedback, I’m convinced it’s one thing (but certainly not the only thing) that makes his practice a little unique.

Did you know electricity + water can equal very effective pain management?  This is a treatment for achiness, swelling and pain in the feet and lower legs.  But let’s go back to that part about electricity and water, because that was the part that made me nervous!  (Hence the title of this post.)  I have zero background in electrical conduction (is that even the right term?), but I know dropping your hair dryer in the tub can be detrimental.  And I’m not proud to admit it but I do get a little skiddish whenever I have to attach jumper cables to a car (a regular occurrence for our 2005 Corolla).  That little chance of an unexpected spark combined with my inability to remember which cable you attach first makes me happy to step back while The Chiropractor does it without incident.  What can I say–I was a music major and that realm of science obviously didn’t stick with me past 8th grade.

So putting my bare feet into a basin full of water and then adding electricity made me a little nervous to say the least.  But that’s only because I was uneducated on how it works.  I still can’t explain it in depth, but electrical impulses are transmitted from the electrodes (the same electrodes he puts on a patient for muscle stim) by placing the tips of the electrodes in the basin full of water and then turning the unit on.  The water allows the entire surface of the foot to then be the entry point for the electrical impulses.  If you’ve ever had a muscle stim treatment, you know the benefit that electrical impulses can have on your muscles.

If there’s one thing I know as a music therapist, it’s that the right kind of stimulation in the right context is necessary for effective therapy. And I guess the same thing goes here.  This foot protocol involves several minutes of stimulation at a certain intensity and frequency, followed by an adjustment in both settings for the last few minutes. And you can be scrolling on your phone (or sneak a quick nap) the whole time if you want.

Regardless of the strange sensation, I was not electrocuted, nor was there ever the remotest danger of such an event happening.  (Note: if you have a pacemaker this treatment would be contraindicated; however technically the only risk in that situation would be if you submerged your hands or head into the water with the electrodes.)

What does it feel like?  Some people may say relaxing.  We do add epsom salt and the patient’s choice of essential oil after all.  For me, the first time was just a little strange.  The settings for frequency and intensity are set to the patient’s tolerance level.  Consistent with my husband’s assessment that I, as a semi-time redhead, feel pain very acutely (in other words, have a low pain threshold), my tolerance for these settings was fairly low.  And I’m honestly not sure how I could describe what it felt like.  Someday I’m going to try acupuncture and maybe there will be some similarities?  I’ll have to report back on that.  But many patients with chronic foot pain love the treatment and have come in for it regularly.

And while I wasn’t in any significant pain at the time, it did leave my feet feeling a bit pampered and relaxed in a weird sort of way.  An added bonus is that the room where they do these treatments also has a leg massage chair that I love, so I always take advantage of that too! If you’ve got pain, swelling, or achiness in your feet, you should definitely try it out.  And if you’ve also ever done acupuncture, I’d love to hear your experience comparing the sensations!   🙂

electrode foot treatment in water