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Ever step out of bed only to feel a tight, sharp pain in the arch or heel of one or both feet?

Chances are you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis!

Sounds like it might be caused by some sort of flesh eating bacteria—but it’s not.

Plantar fasciitis is a very common cause of foot pain in both men and women.  It is most common in men between 40-70 years of age.

Weekend warriors know what I’m talking about!

Plantar fasciitis is usually characterized by pain near the insertion of a large thick tendon comprising the arch of your foot.  Many people notice pin-point pain, sometimes swelling to the arch of their foot.  From the map above, you can see most people have pain near the insertion of this tendon on the bottom surface of your heel bone.

The classic complaint is severe pain stepping out of bed first thing in the morning or after sitting for a period of time. In milder forms the pain subsides after warming up but in more severe situations the can stop people from daily activities like walking, running, etc.

Plantar fasciitis is not a heel spur as many falsely believe.  You don’t necessarily need surgery and most cures are natural or home-based.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

In my clinical experience, PF (plantar fasciitis) usually develops in folks doing one of a few things:

  • Starting or rapidly increasing a new exercise program (increasing mileage, doing too much too soon, etc.)
  • Exercising without proper warm-up (Jumping into workouts without gentle stretching and warm-up)
  • Wearing worn out dress or work-out shoes (SHOES DIE!  Bury them!  3-6 months of usage, depending on mileage and most shoes are done!)  In my experience wearing improperly fit or worn out shoes creates most cases of PF.
  • Running on rough or uneven surfaces (Inflicting injury by straining or pulling the arch=traumatic PF)
  • Excessive stairs or downhill running.
  • Over tight achillies tendons (Poor overall flexibility)
  • Attempting to workout with existing injuries to ankles, knees, hips or back.  (Just like a poor front end alignment wearing out your tires on your car—feet take the brunt of poorly aligned legs, knees, and back)
  • Overuse (IF all the above are covered, sometimes just simply overtaxing your feet by running or exercising excessively, one can develop PF)
  • Being overweight
  • Ingesting a primarily high processed carbohydrate diet

Treatment Plantar Fasciitis

Here are some common treatment strategies in ascending order of complexity or seriousness:

1.  Ice 20 min each night, Gently stretch each morning before placing all your weight on the foot, change or experiment with different foot wear, decrease activity which exacerbates the pain, try inserting a gel heel cup….try the above treatments x 6 wks.

2.  Add Ibuprofen or Aleve (presuming no allergies or kidney issues)  OTC directions (Max 2 wks)

3.  Consider massaging the heel (this is painful but very effective at stimulating healing)

4.  Consider Strassburg sock

5.  Consider acupuncture and/or Chiropractic evaluation (For either direct treatment or assessment of alignment related issues)

6.  Consider visiting a foot specialist (orthopedic or podiatrist)  to consider injections

7.  Plasmaphoresis injections (Blood sample spun down concentrating healing components of blood, then re- injected back into the area of injury (PF)

8.  Consider surgical release type procedures with specialist

In my clinical experience many patients experience success with #’s 1-3.  Rarely, patients will advance beyond those levels of therapy.

Is there anything else that can be done?

YES!  If you have poor nutrition, you eat candy, sweets, sodas, or consume excessive grains and alcohol, you may have difficulty dealing with inflammation.  Inflammation is unresolved healing.  Folks who are prone to arthritis, tendonitis, etc, often eat foods that keep their body from healing.  Try a whole food low grain/processed carbohydrate diet.

Anti-inflammatory Diet Tips

Here are a few nutritional supplements that could help as well:

1) Omega 3 fatty acids (from fish oil) – These help regulate the inflammatory process and support the pathway of primary inflammation.  I prefer cod liver oil 1-2 twice daily.
2) Amino acids – The building blocks of all connective tissue are a base requirement for cellular repair processes.
3) Anti-oxidants – Prevent the buildup of free radical compounds in the area of chronic inflammation by taking these in supplement form and you will ward off degenerative changes in your tissues.
4) MSM – A form of dietary sulfur, this powerful supplement aids in the healing of inflamed connective tissue and helps strengthen those tissues.
5) Probiotics – These healthy gut bacteria are needed for the production of short chain fatty acids which literally feed your immune system and make all immune related activities more efficient, thereby reducing inflammatory pain.  (Lact Enz & Acidophilus are good options)
6) Curcumin – This extract from turmeric, is a biological response modifier and bolsters primary inflammatory efficiency. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Don’t keep limping along when you have options!

Please comment with your experience…..or treatment options and failures

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