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Acupressure vs. Acupuncture for Heel Pain

Acupressure vs. Acupuncture for Plantar FasciitisAcupressure versus acupuncture–what’s the difference, how does each one work, and which one is more effective for plantar fasciitis?

These two words sound alike for a reason. Both are rooted in the prefix “Acu,” which means targeted. And both pinpoint heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. Acupressure–as you have probably guessed–combats heel pain through targeted pressure to different areas of the heel, while acupuncture treats heel pain through special needles that barely puncture the skin.

Here’s what you need to know about acupuncture and acupressure for heel pain:

How Does Acupuncture Help Heel Pain?

In acupuncture, very tiny needles are quickly inserted shallowly. It’s unclear exactly how this works to reduce pain, but researchers believe that the needle insertion stimulates blood flow and hormones to the affected area, drastically reducing pain. Several studies have shown acupuncture to be an effective method of temporarily reducing the symptoms of heel pain and plantar fasciitis. In one study, acupuncture showed to be 97% effective at temporarily reducing pain from plantar fasciitis, as compared to 76% of a control group that was administered medication.

How Does Acupressure Help Heel Pain?

Acupressure on the foot

Acupressure works through applying pressure to “hot spots” of the heel and arch that have been negatively affected by plantar fasciitis. This accomplishes two things: first, the pressure to these targeted areas numbs the body’s pain response. Second, constant, targeted pressure through special orthotic inserts that incorporate Fascia-Bar technology lifts the arch so that heel spurs no longer dig into the fatty pad of the heel (a primary cause of pain from plantar fasciitis.)

Benefits and Drawbacks of Acupuncture for Plantar Fasciitis

Acupuncture in the foot

Most of the potential drawbacks to acupuncture for heel pain involve overcoming the perception that acupuncture is painful. While this treatment method does involve needles, it really doesn’t hurt! The other potential downside of acupuncture is that it only treats symptoms–not the cause–of plantar fasciitis. To eliminate symptoms for good, it’s necessary to treat the damage to the plantar fascia.

  • Effectiveness: A compelling number of studies indicate that acupuncture is very effective at treating the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. However, acupuncture does not treat the root cause of plantar fasciitis.
  • Cost: The cost of acupuncture varies by location and facility, but as a general rule, an intake visit will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $75, while an ongoing series of visits will be closer to $50.
  • Pain Level: Surprisingly, acupuncture isn’t painful. If you do experience pain or discomfort, let the physician know immediately!

Benefits and Drawbacks of Acupressure for Plantar Fasciitis

The biggest drawback to acupressure is finding an orthotic that fits the bill. Most orthotics provide cushioning–important for painful heels–but that’s the end of the story. For effective acupressure, it’s critical to use an orthotic that uses Fascia-Bar technology, which was developed specifically to treat plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Unlike many treatments for plantar fasciitis (including acupuncture), acupressure focuses on treating the root cause of plantar fasciitis by lifting the plantar fascia to a proper height. This both eliminates the pain from heel spurs, and applies pain-relieving pressure to targeted areas.

  • Effectiveness: A double blind clinical study conducted by the University of Iowa concluded that Fascia-Bar technology is twice times as effective at treating heel pain than comparable leading brand orthotics. Patients who use orthotics with Fascia-Bar technology report a remarkable satisfaction rate of more than 90%.
  • Cost: Orthotics with Fascia-Bar technology can be purchased for less than $20, and can be washed and reworn.
  • Pain Level: While it’s recommended that you ease into wearing orthotics by gradually increasing the amount of time you spend wearing them each day, you shouldn’t experience any pain.

So, Is Acupressure or Acupuncture Better for Heel Pain?

Both acupressure and acupuncture have compelling benefits, and the good news is that you don’t have to choose! These treatments can be used in tandem to provide pain relief from symptoms, depending on your budget and preferences.

While it’s important to treat the root cause of plantar fasciitis to avoid an endless loop of treating symptoms without addressing the underlying issue, any reasonably priced, safe, non-invasive treatment that effectively alleviates pain is a good option!

Top 6 Most Common Knee Injuries

Top 6 Most Common Knee InjuriesDid you know that your knees are the largest joints in your body?

And it’s no wonder! Your knees absorb an incredible amount of of impact and pressure from even daily activities like taking a walk–let alone running a marathon or playing a game of tag with the kids.

The importance role knees play in allowing us to move and functional normally means that knee injuries should always be taken seriously. Getting medical help quickly for severe knee injuries is crucial, and arming yourself with knowledge to treat minor injuries effectively is key to keeping your knees healthy and functioning!

Symptoms of knee injuries can surface in the form of swelling at the site of the injury, pain when you move the knee, and buckling or locking. Let’s take a look at the six most common types of knee injuries that can cause these symptoms–and most importantly, what you can do about them.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Knee Pain?

1. IT Band Syndrome (Iliotibial Band Syndrome):

Your iliotibial or IT band runs from your hip to the outside of your knee and is tough, flexible band of tissue. Through overuse or strain, it can become inflamed (much like the plantar fascia!). This pain will appear on the outside of the knee and is particularly prevalent in runners (especially after a run with a lot of hills!).

Knee Pain Causes

2. Patellar tendinitis:

Much like iliotibial band syndrome, patellar tendinitis results from inflammation in a band of tissue connected to the knee–this time running from the kneecap to the shinbone. Patellar tendinitis is also known as “jumper’s knee,” since it presents in many sports that involve repetitive leaping and jumping. Pain from patellar tendinitis and and IT band syndrome is often worse in the morning, at night, and after physical activity.

3. Ligament Sprains and Tears:

One of the most common types of knee injuries is actually a tear or sprain to the ligaments that connect your thighs to your leg bones (and stabilize your knees). Pain may feel shooting or dull, depending on severity. Mild injuries to these ligaments (including the ACL, PCL, and MCL) can typically be treated at home; however, severe tears may require surgery.

4. Arthritis of the Knee:

Arthritis, which is a degenerative condition, can have a significant impact on the knee. The most common types of arthritis that impact the knee include rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation, which leads to damaged cartilage), osteoarthritis (wear and tear that often doesn’t appear until age 50 or after), and post-traumatic arthritis (the result of trauma to the knee that has damaged the cartilage and lead to damage).

5. Cartilage Tears:

Cartilage is tough, flexible tissue located on both sides of the knee joint, as well as on the inside and outside of the knee joint. When it is damaged, through overuse or sudden injury, a painful tear may occur in the meniscus. This injury often requires surgery; however, depending on the severity of the tear, your doctor may recommend other types of therapy.

6. Bursitis:

You may have heard this knee injury called “preacher’s knee”–since it results from repeated bending and kneeling, especially on hard surfaces. The bursa, or the sac that holds fluid between your knee joint and the skin, acts as a cushion when you kneel. When this sac becomes inflamed, it can cause pain and swelling.

Treatments for Knee Pain

How Can You Treat Knee Pain at Home?

While it’s very important to confirm all treatment methods with a doctor–especially when it comes to your knees–many effective treatments for mild knee injuries can be done right at home. RICE (rest, icing, compression, and elevation) is one of the best ways to address knee injuries at home:

Rest:

This is one of the most critical parts of healing from a knee injury–since failing to take it easy from activity or pressure on the knee can lead to a worse injury or a more complex injury that requires surgery. Listen to your body, and give yourself plenty of time to heal.

Ice:

Icing your knee and other inflamed areas surrounding the knee can help with pain, swelling, and inflammation. Ice for approximately 20 minutes every at 3 or 4 hour intervals throughout the day, and continue icing as long as you’re experiencing pain and swelling.

Compression:

Whenever you notice your knee starting to hurt, slip on a light knee sleeve, which provides light compression and fights inflammation. If you don’t have a knee brace around, you can use bandages or KT tape to help support the injured knee and reduce swelling while you heal.

Elevation:

Elevate your feet for knee pain

Using a pillow or another soft surface under your heel, elevate your your knee while sitting or lying down. Elevating the injured knee will reduce swelling and rest the area.

Anti-inflammatory medication:

Anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen can help with both pain and swelling. Make sure you consult your doctor before taking medication in combination with other drugs you may have been prescribed!

Stretching:

When your doctor gives you the all-clear, stretching can be a great way to strengthen and improve flexibility in the muscles and ligaments that support the knee. By improving strength and flexibility, you’ll reduce pain from tightness and improve the muscles’ and ligaments’ ability to keep your knee steady and in proper place during activity.

For more complex or severe injuries to the knee (like tears to the meniscus), you may need assistance from a doctor. Arthritis may require corticosteroid shots to reduce severe inflammation, and it may be necessary to diagnose tears to the meniscus with an MRI or x-rays.

As you heal, remember that rest is often the most important ingredient to recovery. Don’t rush the healing process, and stay active and healthy with activities like swimming, that don’t put pressure on your knees. Return to your old exercises or activity level gradually, and make sure that your injured knee feels strong and free of pain when you bend or put weight on it. Trying to hurry the healing process is a fast track to a secondary injury!

5 Yoga Poses for Plantar Fasciitis

5 Yoga Poses for Plantar FasciitisYou’ve probably heard about the many health benefits of yoga by now–including flexibility, strength, and mental clarity. But did you know that yoga is also a great way to treat foot pain?

Plantar fasciitis, which primarily manifests as pain in the arch and heels of the feet, is a direct result of trauma, damage, and weakness to the plantar fascia. Which means that exercises that strengthen and stretch the foot are excellent tools for healing and getting in touch with your body.

So, what are the best yoga poses for improving your plantar fasciitis?

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to avoid stretches that put a lot of pressure on your arch or heels, or that require sudden movements. Standing poses, poses that stretch calves and Achilles tendon, and poses that gently stretch the arches of your feet are ideal.

1. Toes Pose:

This pose, found in Yin Yoga, targets the fascia of the body to stretch, strengthen, and elongate it.

To do Toes Pose, sit in a kneeling position. Then slowly lift up on your toes, with your knees still anchored in front of you on the ground. Gently let your weight settle back onto your heels, and hold this pose for between two and three minutes. Don’t get discouraged if this is difficult at first, or if you can’t hold the pose for this long. As you do this pose, imagine your fascia elongating and becoming more flexible. Don’t forget to breathe calmly and deeply through this pose.

See a video of Toes Pose.

2. Garland Pose:

Garland pose stretches the ankles and calves for increased flexibility and strength in critical muscles that support your arch.

To do Garland pose, squat on the floor with your heels flat on the ground and your feet close together and your thighs apart. As you exhale, lean forward so that your torso fits between your thighs. Now, bring your hands together as you gently press your elbows against your inner knees. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then slowly release.

See a video of Garland Pose.

3. Tadasana (Mountain Pose):

Standing poses like this one are a great way to strengthen your legs and feet, stretch the fascia, and relax your body.

To do Tadasana, stand upright with your feet parallel and your big toes just barely touching. Lift the balls of your feet gently, then lower them back down. Rock your body side to side, then back and forth, finally coming to a standstill with your weight balanced across both feet.

Mountain pose for plantar fasciitis

4. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose):

This pose is great for people whose feet are fatigued and strained from spending a lot of time standing. Along with stretching the feet, it stretches the hips, thighs, and calves.

To do Bound Angle Pose, sit down and straighten your back. Then, bend your knees and bring them toward your pelvis until the soles of your feet touch. For support, you can hold your feet with your hands. Use your hands to pull your feet into your body as much as possible, then gently press your knees downward toward the floor. Hold for 1-3 minutes, release, and repeat. As you become more accustomed to this pose, you can increase the difficulty by slowly flapping your knees up and down, like a butterfly.

Bound angle pose for plantar fasciitis

5. Prancing Feet Pose:

This pose is great for building flexibility and strength in your fascia and toes.

To do Prancing Feet Pose, assume a basic standing position. Now, smoothly lift one heel off the ground and roll onto your toes. Place that foot back on the ground and repeat the motion with the opposite foot. Continue alternating sides in a fluid prancing motion. If you feel off balance, hold onto a table or back of a chair while you do Prancing Feet Pose.

See a video of Prancing Feet.

Yoga can be a terrific way to treat your foot and heel pain, but remember that healing takes time. Regularly stretching and strengthening your plantar fascia will promote healing and will strengthen the surrounding muscles and ligaments, allowing your arch to better support weight and resist further injury.

Whether you decide to join a class or do these stretches in your own home, you can find motivation knowing that 90% of cases of plantar fasciitis can be treated without medical help. Meaning, these relaxing mornings of yoga are making a big difference–without a big bill!

Want to see even faster results? Use these yoga poses in combination with other natural remedies for plantar fasciitis to put your feet back on the path to healing faster than you can say “Bandhakonasana.”

Learn more about how yoga is beneficial for plantar fasciitis.

Plantar Fasciitis & Inflammation: Your Questions Answered

Plantar Fasciitis and InflammationInflammation and plantar fasciitis go hand in hand, that much is clear. But why? And what can be done about it?

We’ve answered your top questions about plantar fasciitis and inflammation to help you arm yourself with knowledge about one of the most common side effects of this painful condition. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about the source of your pain, the better you can address–and heal–that pain.

1. Why Does Plantar Fasciitis Cause Inflammation?

To put it simply, plantar fasciitis develops in response to strain and stress on the fascia of your foot–otherwise known as the arch, or the area between your heel and the ball of your foot. When strain or damage from injury or overuse happens, tiny tears appear in the fascia that cause inflammation. As the body attempts to compensate for this damage, small calcium deposits often form that dig into the fatty pad of the heel when you walk–causing further inflammation and pain.

Swelling and inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis

2. How Is Inflammation Identified?

Inflammation typically feels like pain that flares up in the form of swollen tissue, reddened skin, and sometimes heat to the touch. It may feel more difficult to move the inflamed area of the foot. Interestingly enough, inflammation is actually part of your body’s healing response–sending additional blood, hormones, and white blood cells to the injured area of your body for protection and support. It can help to think of inflammation as a signal from your body that something is wrong and needs to be addressed.

3. Can Inflammation Be Present Without Visible Symptoms?

In some cases of chronic, continuous stress and strain to the plantar fascia, it may be possible to ignore or brush off some milder symptoms of inflammation. Pain may not be severe, and redness and swelling may not be apparent to the naked eye at first. Don’t ignore early signs of inflammation like slight swelling and mild pain, before you take action to address the underlying problem.

4. What is the difference between acute and chronic inflammation?

The inflammation you may experience from plantar fasciitis can either be acute or chronic. In other words, the pain you experience long-term as a result of plantar fasciitis is considered chronic, while pain that flares up in the morning when you step out of bed, or when you stay on your feet all day, is acute. Both acute and chronic pain are typically involved with plantar fasciitis, but their treatment should vary.

5. How Can I Treat Acute Inflammation?

Anti Inflammatory for acute inflammation

Acute inflammation that flares up after a long day on your feet or an injury can be treated with rest, icing, and anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen. Make sure to give the injury or the affected area that’s inflamed enough time to heal by staying off your feet as much as possible, and use an ice pack or ice slippers consistently over several days.

6. How Can I Treat Chronic Inflammation?

Chronic inflammation should be treated at the source of the problem in addition to using ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory medication for acute symptoms that flare up. Many cases of chronic pain and inflammation of the foot are the result of plantar fasciitis. At the root of the problem is an arch that is injured or strained. By better supporting the arch and positioning the foot so that heel spurs (which can cause inflammation through the simple act of walking as they protrude into the fatty pad of the heel) don’t jut into surrounding tissue, the fascia can begin to heal. Orthotics made especially for heel spurs and plantar fasciitis–not simply cushioning–are the fastest way to heal and support a damaged arch. Incorporating simple stretches to strengthen the arch is also a critical part of healing, since a weak arch is much more likely to sustain damage.

When it comes to inflammation, treat the symptoms as they arise, but don’t neglect to treat the underlying problem (typically plantar fasciitis) that is causing the pain and discomfort. Simply treating symptoms is a surefire recipe for a problem that gets worse, and takes longer to treat effectively, as more time goes by. Thankfully, most inflammation resulting from plantar fasciitis can be dealt with simply and effectively at home, using icing, rest, orthotics, and simple stretches.

Vibrating Feeling In Your Foot? It’s Probably Pallesthesia

Vibrating in foot caused by PallesthesiaWhen it comes to health, nobody likes a mystery.

Which is why a mysterious buzzing or vibrating in your foot that seems to come and go at random is so frustrating.

This mysterious–and irritating–ailment is the inspiration for numerous questions on Yahoo Answers, online podiatry threads, and doctor’s visits every year. And for many people, the answer for the odd buzzing is “Pallesthesia.”

The buzzing sensation often comes and goes at regular intervals (a few seconds of buzzing followed by a few seconds of peace). It can feel like a short burst of electricity or a cell phone on vibrate under your skin, which is why the name “pallesthesia” literally translates to–”feelings of vibration.”

Often, pallesthesia is most noticeable at night when you’re lying still, trying to fall asleep. It’s also possible to experience it in other extremities like your hands and fingers.

What exactly causes pallesthesia, and should you be worried about other underlying problems?Is there a cure?

Keep reading!

What Causes Pallesthesia?

To put it briefly, it’s unclear exactly what causes pallesthesia. Or more accurately, there are a number of possible reasons you might be experiencing the vibrating in your foot. The following are some of the most likely possibilities:

B12 deficiency or anemia:

Many people who have suffered from pallesthesia report improvement after upping their dosage of B12 and iron, which makes sense, since these vitamins are key to nerve health, and odd sensations like buzzing could be a sign of deficiency. Check your levels with a simple blood test.

Blocked artery or vein:

Another possibility is a partial blockage in an artery or vein from a clot or some kind of injury. The buzzing sensation may be from the blood forcing its way through the blocked vein or artery.

Stress response and adrenaline:

Stress causes Pallesthesia

Does the buzzing feeling in your foot happen when you’re stressed? It may be part of your body’s stress response that sends hormones and blood flow to different parts of the body in anticipation of fight or flight. If you notice that your pallesthesia is happening in response to stress, calming down through breathing exercises or mindfulness can help relieve symptoms.

Compressed nerve or damaged nerve:

Damage to the nerves in the extremities, also known as peripheral neuropathy, can cause pallesthesia in some cases. If you notice any numbness accompanying the vibration, make sure you get to a doctor quickly, since this can indicate damage to the a nerve. Doctors don’t know what causes peripheral neuropathy in many cases. However, about one third are a result of diabetes, which can change blood glucose levels and impact nerve cells’ metabolism.

Medications:

Some medications can cause pallesthesia. If you noticed the buzzing sensation in conjunction with a new medication or increased dosage, talk to your doctor about switching medications, and ask what this means in context of your treatment.

Restless Leg Syndrome:

Some people who suffer from restless leg syndrome, a neurological condition that causes a desire to move one’s legs constantly, report pallesthesia as an accompanying side effect. A good rule of thumb is, if you have other symptoms like pain, fatigue, problems with motor skills, or numbness in addition to the buzzing, it’s worth a trip to the doctor to rule out a larger problem like diabetes, fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), or a warning of nerve damage.

How Can I Make the Vibrating Go Away?

Because the causes of pallesthesia are so diverse, treatment will depend greatly on the cause of the buzzing.

If you suspect a vitamin deficiency or confirm this with a blood test, increase your B12 or iron, being sure to take care with antacids or calcium that can block absorption of these vitamins.

Vitamins and minerals for Pallesthesia

If you notice a correlation with stress and the buzzing, learn some breathing exercises as a way to calm down when the buzzing starts.

If the underlying cause is more serious, like peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, MS, fibromyalgia, or arthritis, your doctor will be able to coordinate a targeted treatment approach for the underlying condition that should help with the pallesthesia as well.

Can I Prevent Pallesthesia?

As with treatments, preventing pallesthesia rests on its unique cause. In general, work to keep your body healthy through eating lots of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water, get regular exercise, avoid alcohol and drugs, and avoid repetitive movements that put strain your feet and extremities. Don’t forget a multivitamin, especially one that contains B12 and iron.

The good news is that while pallesthesia is often a mysterious combination of factors, it’s not usually a threat to your health or an indication of something more sinister.

Try the ideas above, and make sure you’re exercising regularly and getting enough vitamins. And don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor to put your mind at ease. Chances are that the buzzing amounts to an annoyance–not a harbinger of bad news. But it’s always better to err on the side of your health.

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