A Case Study – Plantar Fasciitis
This week, following on from my Water element theme, I look at heel pain (specifically Plantar Fasciitis) and how Acupuncture can help.
How can my feet be connected to my Kidneys?
Well, primarily because of the location of the Bladder (which is paired with the Kidneys) meridian which runs through the back, knees and heels. But in Chinese Medicine the heel is also related to the Kidneys because of the emotional aspect. This makes sense if you think about it, as the Kidneys are the storehouse of our inherited Qi (our Jing or Essence). They are linked to our ability as humans to grow and to stand upright, and therefore stride forward into the world. If this ability is taken away from us, the ability to stand and walk, the resulting emotion is fear.
As you know I love to take a step back into the past. So let us once again imagine ourselves as the hunter gatherers our ancestors once were. Image injuring your back/knees/heels, from either old age or a run-in with a wooly mammoth. If you can’t get out there and look for food, or if you are unable to run from a predator, you are pretty much done for. These emotions are hardwired into us. If you can’t get up in the morning, the first thing we feel is fear. How can I get ready for work? What about the kids? How can I do the shopping? Who will do the chores? Nowadays of course you won’t get left behind as the tribe moves on for pastures new, but the fear is still there!
A pain in the foot
Recently a Client came to see me for Acupuncture after being diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis. PF is the most frequent cause of heel pain. It is commonly seen in runners, but can also be caused by walking and standing on a hard surface. PF is an inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that supports the arch. There is also the possibility of micro-tears in the fascia at or near its attachment to the calcaneus (which is the heel bone)About half of patients will also have a heel spur. Being overweight is also a very common factor in cases of PF.
My Client (let’s call him Bob) had been suffering with heel pain for quite some time, about 6 months. The usual treatment offered by the NHS is steroid injection, but so far after two injections Bob was still in pain. And being a man of a certain age, although the cause was unclear, his health wasn’t as straight forward as one would like. He has a history of Type 2 diabetes and Prostate Cancer, both of which have a Kidney and Bladder involvement. These conditions were well managed, however, and his general health is good.
So what could be the cause of Bob’s heel pain? The pain started the day after his first ever driving lesson. A stressful event that was perhaps a little too much for his already weakened Kidneys? It also seemed feasible to me that the car accelerator and brake (which he wasn’t used to) may have put strain on his achilles tendon, which then affected his heel.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis is one of those conditions I know straight away whether acupuncture is going to help, which in this case it has. As you can see in the picture, I treated Bob’s heel with electro-acupuncture together with the heat lamp. As the Kidneys are the most yin organ of the body, they are easily affected by the cold, so heat really helps nourish the affected areas. I also used acupuncture on tender points along the Bladder meridian, including the points related to Bob’s Kidneys in his lower back.
I am happy to report that Bob felt less heel pain after just one session.