Have you ever felt a sharp pain in your heel that makes it difficult to walk or stand for long periods? If so, you may be experiencing plantar fasciitis, a common condition that affects the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. Plantar fasciitis can be a frustrating and painful condition, but there are natural remedies that can help, such as acupuncture.
In this article, we'll explore the benefits of acupuncture for plantar fasciitis, how it works, and what you can expect during an acupuncture session.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, and it can happen to any athletic or active person.
It is usually caused by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes.
Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain and is characterized by inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot.
This overuse injury can be caused by microtears in the fascia at or near its attachment to the calcaneus and is often associated with the presence of a calcaneal heel spur.
Repetitive stress can lead to inflammation of the fascia.
Pain typically starts after one alters their activity level, like increasing running mileage, hills, or speed, can be experienced.
Plantar fasciitis may be more likely to occur if someone has excessive pronation, a leg length discrepancy, or high or low arches in their feet.
Pressure applied to the middle bump of the cheekbone or close to the middle of the bottom of the heel can cause pain.
Who is Affected by Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common injury among runners, with estimates suggesting that it may account for up to 10% of all running-related injuries.
However, it can occur in anyone with repetitive strain or overuse, such as running, prolonged standing, or wearing shoes with poor arch support.
Studies have shown that obesity increases the risk of developing plantar fasciitis, with up to 40 percent of male and 90 percent of female patients suffering from this condition.
In addition, acute trauma during strenuous lower extremity activities can also lead to plantar fasciitis.
Typical Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms:
The pain is located on the underside of the heel.
Heel pain usually extends toward the metatarsal head.
Usually, one can find stiffness on the plantar side of the foot muscles.
The patient feels most pain at the first steps in the morning or after long periods of resting or sitting.
Usually, the plantar fasciitis pain reduces after warming up the joints and comes back after a period of rest.
Western Medicine Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
This is a short list of common procedures for treating plantar fasciitis pain with Western Medicine:
Anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, may produce stomach ulcers and gastro intestinal bleeding in long-term use.
Stretching tight calf muscles often increase heel pain, so stretching the calf muscles relieve heel pain.
Massage, ultrasound, taping, strengthening exercises, and other physical therapy treatments.
A steroid injection is usually prescribed, but some studies show that it might produce plantar fascia rupture in some patients.
Reduction of the activities that aggravate the plantar heel pain.
What is Plantar Fasciitis in Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Plantar fasciitis or Heel pain is classified in TCM as Bi Syndrome, a kind of arthritis or joint degeneration.
Bi Syndromes is characterized by obstruction of Qi and Blood in meridians and collaterals due to invasion of pathogenic wind, cold and dampness, Damp-Heat, Qi & Blood Stagnation, and Kidney and Liver Jing Deficiency.
Let's see the different Plantar Fasciitis Treatment protocols in Traditional Chinese medicine:
Wind, Cold & Damp Treatment:
The patient will feel cold and will have a heavy sensation, and will feel released with heat and dry weather.
The patient also can have cold limbs, clear urine, no thirst, and poor appetite.
To alleviate pain, plantar fasciitis will use the next points:
SJ 5 + Li 4; to expel external symptoms of cold, wind, and dampness.
Kid 3; expels cold and warms the channels
Sp 6; promote healing by promoting blood flow and eliminating dampness
Sp 9; reduce inflammation, dampness, and swelling and move Qi.
Herbal formulas like Juan Bi Tang or Jing Fang Bai Du Pian can provide intense pain relief even more than acupuncture treatments or physical therapy if the pattern is correct.
The Plantar fasciitis or heel pain in a Damp-Heat pattern will show signs like redness and swelling and feel better in cold weather. Also can have a bitter taste in the mouth, a poor appetite, loose stools with a strong odor, and a feeling of heaviness on the legs.
To provide pain relief, we can use the next acupuncture points and the next herbal formulas:
Acupuncture for Plantar Fasciitis:
Si 4 + Bl 4; to promote the elimination of dampness through urination.
Sp 9 + Gb 34; to eliminate Damp-Heat in lower jiao and relieve pain.
Kid 2; to clear heat and dampness.
Li4 + Liv 3 to reduce plantar fasciitis and heel pain.
Sp 10; is a good acupuncture point to cool the blood and reduce redness.
Si Miao Wan is a classic formula to clear heat and resolves dampness in the lower leg and feet.
Qi & Blood Stagnation Treatments:
This pattern of plantar fasciitis is usually due to trauma, often with a history of repetitive injuries on the heel. Stabbing pain with a fixed location, and it gets worse at night. The patient usually has rigid joints.
Plantar fasciitis acupuncture for Qi and Blood Stasis:
Li4 + Liv 3; the combination of these two points strongly promotes the movement of Qi and eliminates stagnation, relieving pain simultaneously.
Gb 34; strengthens the tendons and produces pain reduction
Gb 39 + Kid 3; tonify Kidney and strengthens the bones.
Sp 6; tonifies Yin and Blood.
Bl 60; to promote heel pain relief
Fu Yuan Huo Xue Tang can be a good formula that moves the blood, dispels blood stasis, spreads Liver Qi, and unlocks the channels.
It helps to reduce plantar fasciitis pain when there is excruciating pain due to severe Qi and Blood stagnation.
Kidney and Liver Jing- Essence Deficiency
This pattern presents as chronic plantar fasciitis pain that is aggravated by exercise or by long periods of time standing. The patient usually also experiences lower back pain, weakness, easy fatigue, or aversion to cold. Often seen in old people.
We can use acupuncture needles in many points; this is a short example.
Sp 6; tonifies Spleen, Kidney, and Liver.
GB 39; generates Marrow and Jing.
GB 34; strengthens tendons and bones.
St 36; reinforces Spleen and Stomach, stimulating the production of Blood.
Liv 3 + Kid 3; tonify Kidney and Liver to strengthen bones and tendons.
A good herbal remedy to help with plantar fasciitis due to deficiency is Liu Wei Di Huang Wan. It is a classic formula to tonify Kig Yin and Jing, and it can help anyone with deficiency signs and symptoms, like weakness in the lower back, vertigo, tinnitus, night sweats, etc.
Conclusion of Plantar Fasciitis Acupuncture
Plantar fasciitis can be a frustrating and painful condition, but there are natural remedies that can help relieve symptoms and promote healing. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs are safe and effective treatment options to help reduce pain and inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis, and for many patients, it's a life-changing solution. If you are experiencing symptoms of plantar fasciitis, consider giving acupuncture a try. Additionally, combining acupuncture and Chinese Herbs with other natural remedies, such as stretching exercises, massage therapy, and physical therapy, can help provide even greater relief from the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
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