Acupuncture and Herbs: Plantar Fasciitis

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Ahhhhhhh Summer is here and we are enjoying every minute as we go on vacations, exercise outside more, and spend time at the beach! But what we forget to think about is how difficult it is for our feet and ankles to make the transition from boots to tennis shoes to sandles/flip flops to nothing! And then you put your feet through the toughest workout when you walk on uneven surfaces like grass and sand! No wonder my phone has been off the hook with calls of desperation, asking if acupuncture can treat plantar fasciitis. And of course, the answer is YES!
But let’s start with what is Plantar Fasciitis? Plantar fasciitis (say “PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus”) is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk. Plantar fasciitis is common in middle-aged people. It also occurs in younger people who are on their feet a lot, like athletes or soldiers. It can happen in one foot or both feet.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament that supports your arch. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament. These can lead to pain and swelling. This is more likely to happen if:
– Your feet roll inward too much when you walk (excessive pronation).
– You have high arches or flat feet.
– You walk, stand, or run for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces.
– You are overweight.
– You wear shoes that don’t fit well or are worn out.
– You have tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles.
Most people with plantar fasciitis have pain when they take their first steps after they get out of bed or sit for a long time. You may have less stiffness and pain after you take a few steps. But your foot may hurt more as the day goes on. It may hurt the most when you climb stairs or after you stand for a long time. (WebMD.com)
So what exactly can acupuncture do and how can it help? The needles can be inserted around the areas of pain and at the bottom of the foot to help relieve the pain and inflammation. Other modalities acupuncturists might employ would be herbal patches, TuiNa (Chinese style massage), laser acupuncture, and KinesioTaping strategies (ask your acupuncturist if they do KinesioTaping as it is a special certification). Most cases clear up in a few treatments with only minimal residual pain left and in most of the cases, the plantar fasciitis continues to heal itself over time (as long as you don’t re-injure the issue)!
If you have plantar fasciitis, trust me, you know and it is debilitating. Consider acupuncture as a non-invasion option for your treatment and let’s get you back to the beach and exercising!