One of the painful ailments that many of my patients deal with this time of year is foot and heel problems. It seems that as the weather warms up and people are more active, wearing less sturdy footwear (like flip-flops, strappy high heels or summery sandals) or even opting to go barefoot once spring arrives, foot and heel pain follows. In an effort to focus my practice – and this blog – on the health questions and conditions that are most pressing for my patients, I’ve taken a closer look.
Millions of Americans complain of painful foot and heel problems. Plantar fascitis, a strain of the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes, is the most common foot problem and affects 2 million Americans and an estimated 10% of people over their lifetime. Heel spurs are also common and it’s estimated that one out of every 10 Americans has them. If you are one of the lucky people that have not experienced this type of pain, it might be difficult to imagine just how debilitating it can be for every step to be painful or even to hurt while standing still.
For those people that are battling common foot ailments, Chinese Medicine and acupuncture have been shown to be effective in treating the pain, aches and lack of mobility. In fact, a study of 18 patients with painful plantar fascitis in the UK showed that acupuncture was effective in reducing their pain. Some of these patients had suffered from foot pain for more than 2 years and saw a significant and dramatic improvement in only 4-6 weeks.
At my practice, it’s always important to listen, to observe and to work collaboratively with each patient – to “walk a mile in his or her shoes” so to speak! – to really understand the cause of their pain or discomfort and to customize a treatment regimen including acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs that will best get to the root cause. If you are loving that spring and warmer weather is here, but already feeling the achy effects that summer activities and footwear are having on your feet, think about talking about it with your doctor or a licensed practitioner of Oriental Medicine. Your feet will thank you!