I have plantar fasciitis which causes me terrible heel pain.
My doctor says it will take a year to heal. Is there anything I can do to speed that up?
–P.D., Sanibel, Florida
You have my sympathy because I’ve been dealing with plantar fasciitis myself for the past three months. It’s the price I paid for stomping too hard in Zumba class.
Plantar fasciitis is usually caused by a pulling of the long ligament, the plantar fascia, which runs along the bottom of your foot. It may hurt all the time, or just act up while walking and running. The inflammation announces itself as a dull or stabbing pain. When it flares up, it can feel like you’ve planted your heels on a sharp knife!
Typically, doctors recommend applying ice and taking oral anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naproxen, or injections of corticosteroids.
Inserts, orthotics and stretching can help ease foot pain
Getting off your feet certainly helps! You can get custom-made orthotics from your podiatrist (or other physician), which insert into your shoes and offer more support for your feet. I bought an inexpensive gel insert at my local pharmacy and that helped a little bit.
You can learn some exercises and massage techniques to stretch out and relax the inflamed tissues in your feet. (But be warned that massage can be a bit uncomfortable at first!)
The stretching, ice packs and yoga helped me, but the thing I got the most relief from might surprise you. It was acupuncture. Seriously!
Acupuncture provided significant relief for heel pain
You would think heel pain was enough, but imagine needles going into the area! Well no joke, this did the trick for me.
And a study confirms what I already know. Scientists in Greece at the University of Athens tested two groups of athletes with plantar fasciitis. Both groups received conventional treatments, but only one group received acupuncture. Those who got needled experienced significantly more relief after just a matter of weeks.
The researchers concluded that “acupuncture should be considered as a major therapeutic instrument for the decrease of heel pain, combined with traditional medical approaches.”
The earlier you begin acupuncture, the better. You can locate an acupuncturist at www.acufinder.com or ask your doctor for a recommendation. If you have access to a chiropractor or physical therapist, ultrasound is beneficial. I also believe in herbs such as calendula, ginger, bromelain and turmeric as dietary supplements. You can also massage the area with tea tree oil or arnica cream.
In addition to writing a syndicated column on health which reaches 20 million people each week, Suzy is the author of a number of books on natural health.
You may have seen Suzy on The Dr. OZ Show (6 different appearances), The View, The Doctors, Good Morning America Health and hundreds of morning shows. Quotes from Suzy, as well as her articles, have also appeared in major publications including Woman’s Day, Reader’s Digest, OK Magazine!, First for Women, Fitness, Natural Health and Better Homes & Garden and dozens more.
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