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Plantar Fasciitis: Can Acupuncture Help?
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common disorders affecting the heel and underside (also known as plantar side) of the foot. The thick connective tissue running from the heel to the toes, called plantar fascia, becomes painful and inflamed, making it difficult to walk.

For most people, the pain happens first thing in the morning, as soon as they put their foot down to walk. Eventually as the foot warms up and becomes energized, the pain often lessens. However, discomfort throughout the day from too much standing or boosting oneself up from a sitting position is not uncommon.

Those most at risk include runners, individuals who are overweight, people between 40-60 years old and anyone who wears footwear without proper support (e.g. worn-out shoes or high heels). Other factors that may contribute to plantar fasciitis include:

    Engaging in exercise and sports that put stress on the heel
    Flat feet
    High-arched feet
    Jobs requiring long periods of standing

The specific pain acquainted with plantar fasciitis strikes on or near the heel. When the plantar fascia becomes overly stressed, it may sustain tiny tears that can potentially worsen through repetitive movements such as running or ballet. Even stretching at this point may cause further irritation and inflammation.

It is particularly important to seek treatment from your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine when symptoms first occur. One reason is because in an attempt to lessen the foot pain, some people may alter the way they walk. This puts extra pressure on other parts of the body, which may cause problems in the back, hips, knees and/or legs. Early treatment can help prevent your body from reaching this stage.

Perhaps you feel concerned about receiving acupuncture for a problem afflicting the delicate area on the bottom of your foot. This is a concern you should address with your practitioner, for acupuncture and Oriental medicine consists of other therapies in addition to acupuncture. In some cases, applying rice-grain moxa, or another variation of moxabustion therapy, on the most sensitive or sore spots on your foot is the most appropriate treatment.

Moxibustion, also known as moxa, makes use of the dried herb mugwort. The mugwort is burned to produce a medicinal smoke that is believed to penetrate a patient's skin and enter the body. There are many forms and sizes of moxa, ranging from a large stick (about the size of a cigar) to the smallest size, rice-grain moxa.

Since rice-grain moxa is so small, it can be safely applied to the foot to provide relief from the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis. Your practitioner may choose to apply a combination treatment consisting of moxa and acupuncture for maximum relief of your symptoms.

Find an Acupuncturist near you to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help manage your symptoms!

About the Author:   Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.