Do you experience sharp pain in your heel when you bear weight on your foot? Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain — more than 2 million individuals receive treatment for the affliction every year. The condition is due to the inflammation of the plantar fascia — a fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the base of the foot. This ligament acts as a shock absorber. Yet when there is repetitive stress or tearing, the tissue cannot heal quickly enough and begins to degenerate, causing stabbing pain and tenderness in the heel area.
Plantar fasciitis can be triggered by running, obesity, wearing unsupportive footwear, or occupations that require many hours of standing or walking. While some physicians recommend medications and medical intervention, the condition can be treated naturally with no side effects. More than 90% of patients find relief of plantar fasciitis symptoms from nonsurgical treatments.
For example, a physical therapist can instruct you in a series of exercises to stretch the Achilles tendon, plantar fascia and calf muscles, which help stabilize your heel and ankle. A physical therapist can also teach you how to apply athletic taping to support the bottom of your foot. Night splints — available at most pharmacies — are designed to stretch the calf and arch of the foot while you’re sleeping. This holds the plantar fascia tissue in a lengthened position overnight so that it’s less painful in the morning.
Consider wearing footwear that supports your arch and cushions your heel. Wearing the wrong shoes could hinder the healing process and worsen plantar fasciitis pain. You can also incorporate orthotics or arch supports into your shoes for reinforcement. Avoiding high-impact activities, stretching and maintaining a healthy weight can sometimes prevent the ailment.
For more information on healing plantar fasciitis naturally, see the accompanying guide.
Guide created by North County Acupuncture a provider of acupuncture for pain management