Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the membrane that goes from the heel bone to the base of the toes, also called the plantar aponeurosis. It is often associated with a heel spur, which is a bone outgrowth where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel. This outgrowth is caused by the reorganization of the bone in response to the tension of the plantar fascia, but a heel spur is rarely the real cause of the pain. The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain and it is often worse in the morning.
It is estimated that 10% of the population will suffer from plantar fasciitis during their lifetime. Factors that can lead to or contribute to plantar fasciitis include practicing a sport without proper preparation or inappropriate shoes, obesity, shoes that do not support the arch of the foot, flat feet, and walking or standing on a hard surface.
The usual treatments are stretching, use of plantar orthotics, anti-inflammatories and analgesics, cortisone injection and, as a last resort, surgery. The conventional discourse is that the pain caused by plantar fasciitis disappears in 90% of cases, but after 6 to 9 months of these conventional treatments. However, acupuncture can bring much faster relief!
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating pain associated with plantar fasciitis, both chronic and acute. A study conducted by the Department of Orthopedics at Bedford South Wing Hospital in the United Kingdom demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic pain associated with plantar fasciitis. In addition to treating the pain associated with plantar fasciitis, acupuncture addresses the causes of this pain and the factors that contribute to it. By treating acupuncture meridians as well as trigger points, the acupuncturist can quickly offer lasting relief of the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
Here are three simple exercises to help you relieve symptoms related to plantar fasciitis:
1. The golf ball or tennis ball
Place the sole of your foot on a tennis ball or golf ball and roll the ball from the front to the back of the foot to perform a gentle massage on the entire surface of your sole. You can do this exercise standing or sitting for 3 to 5 minutes, 2 times a day.
2. Plantar fascia stretches
Sitting on a chair, place your aching foot on the knee of the opposite leg. Grab the toes at the base, to raise them upwards for about 10 seconds. To make sure the fascia is tight, you can palpate with your thumb. You can do the stretch a dozen, 2 to 3 times a day.
3. Calf Stretch
Place both feet on the first step of a staircase and hold on to the ramp or the wall to keep your balance. Slowly move the feet back so that the heels are in the air, move your weight on the affected side, lower the heel until you feel a deep stretch in the calf. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds then return to the neutral position. Repeat this stretch 3 times.
DeMaio, M., Paine, R., Mangine, R. E., & Drez, D. (1993). Plantar fasciitis. Orthopedics, 16(10), 1153-1163.
Our acupuncturist has a solid background and experience in treating sports injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. If you suffer from pain in the heel or sole, be it heel spur, plantar fasciitis or another cause, make an appointment now to find lasting relief from your pain.