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Back Talk: Look at back for cause of plantar fasciitis

By By Dr. Layne Towery
Sept. 10, 2013 at 4:10 a.m.

Dr. Layne Towery

I have been having a lot of pain in the arch of my right foot. I can hardly walk first thing in the morning. My doctor says X-rays show I have heel spurs in both feet. He gave me a shot in my right foot and gave me some pills for pain. Neither helped. I am still in misery. Why do I have heel spurs? Why doesn't my left arch/foot hurt like my right does? What treatments would you suggest? Should I have surgery to cut these spurs out? Treatment suggestions?

Your description of your condition sounds like plantar fasciitis. This is a painful inflammation of the connective tissue or ligament on the sole (bottom surface) of the foot. Its cause is usually overactivity, excess weight, hyperpronation (flat feet) and, last but not least, your lower back.

Try this to see if your lower back is the culprit. Sit on the edge of a chair. Have someone take their fingers or thumb and push on your lower back firmly around the belt line. Is this area really sore? Does it feel like it is bruised? If so, it is probably your back causing you chronic foot pain.

The nerves in your back control the muscles in your legs. When the nerve gets pinched, it sends abnormal nerve signals to the calf muscle, which makes the muscle tighten up. The calf muscle forms the Achilles tendon, which attaches on the sole of the foot. This chronic tightness of the Achilles tendon pulls on the heel bone and pulls a piece of the bone away, forming the heel spur.

I would first go see a chiropractor and have your back checked out and manipulated. Acupuncture should help with the pain. Start using ice on your back for 25-30 minutes at a time. Take a water bottle and freeze it. Then put it on the floor and roll it with the bottom of the foot. This will massage and ice the foot at the same time.

Next, get a two-by-four and put it on the ground in front of a doorway. Put the balls of your feet on the edge of the board. Hold on to the sides of the door sill and do some slow, easy toe lifts. This will stretch the calf muscles. Remember to do these slowly.

I would highly recommend you be fitted for some custom orthotics(shoe inserts) to help support the arch of your foot.

You can have a heel spur without having heel pain. It all depends on what is going on with your back. Take care of the back and your foot pain should improve. Remember, never let somebody cut on you unless it is the last resort.

I am considering acupuncture for my chronic neck and back pain. What is acupuncture, and what kind of conditions does it help? Do the needles hurt? How many treatments would I need? What is the cost, and does insurance pay?

Acupuncture is an ancient health science, which has been used successfully to treat pain and dysfunction for more than 5,000 years. Its primary application is the utilization of very slender painless needles placed in strategic places on the body.

The World Health Organization lists more than 100 specific pain and dysfunction conditions that respond to acupuncture. There are very few conditions that do not have some degree of success with acupuncture.

The number of treatments varies from patient to patient. It is recommended you try at least five to six treatments before deciding if it is helping. Remember, be patient with the healing process.

Some insurances pay for acupuncture but most do not. The average treatment cost is around $50 per session. The needles are extremely small and rarely does anyone say they hurt.

Layne Towery is a Victoria chiropractor and acupuncturist and can be reached at towerygl@yahoo.com or 361-570-6284.

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