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September 04, 2015
Category: Heel Treatments

  YES!  It is true.  There is a very good chance that if you have plantar fasciitis - the very bad pain on the bottom of the heel that starts hurting in the morning and acts up whenever you sit down and get back up on it - your pain will probably get better if you lose a little weight!  Now - by no means am I saying that ALL people with heel pain are overweight.  There are people who are very thin that have heel pain.  But the vast majority of people with pain on the bottom of the heel will see at least some pain relief, and many will see a LOT of relief, by losing a little weight.

   Plantar fasciitis is caused by a tightening of the ligament on the bottom of the foot that runs from the heel to the base of the toes.  When it becomes painful, it is due to a chronic inflammation, and sometimes small tears within that ligament or fascia.  Anything that causes more pressure on the foot - sports activities, long periods of walking or standing, flat feet, very high arch feet with weight concentrated on the heel, and excess weight - can make it worse.  While people of normal weight DO get heel pain, a large number of people where this condition is long-standing and very difficult to treat are...well...LARGE.  I once saw a woman get a single steroid injection into her heel, lose just 10 pounds (and the woman was just very slightly overweight to start) go for 14 YEARS without pain.  The really odd thing is that when she came back to me for a second injection, she said she had recently gained that weight back.  I've seen people have gastric bypass surgery after having uncontrolled diabetes, cardiovascular disease, AND heel pain - where after several unsuccessful to slightly successful treatments for heel pain LOST 80 to 100 pounds (and these were BIG people to start)...see their heel pain resolve COMPLETELY, the need for diabetic medication go WAY down or even eliminated.  Of course their blood pressure many times stabilizes as well.

A few years ago I bought an old house and decided I would "rehab" it.  That's basically fixing it up, and in my case spending more money on the supplies and labor than I did on the house!  To keep expenses from getting totally out of hand, I agreed to pick up some of the materials needed at Lowe's and Home Depot, and have them ready for the contractor to put in.  I have knee arthritis, so going up and down the 20 or so stairs at the front of the house was no fun anyway.  But just carrying cans of paint up those steps caused my knee pain to become excruciating.  If that wasn't bad enough, carrying kitchen cabinets up was even worse.  A few extra pounds made a hug difference in my knee pain, and it does the same to the heel.   

   Not every one will see heel pain resolve completely as a result of losing weight, but if you or someone you love has had heel pain for a year or more, it has not responded well to treatment, and you may just be carrying around a few extra pounds, give it a try!   Losing a little weight may just make a BIG difference in your level of pain.


Richard S. Eby, DPM


7348 East Brainerd Road

Chattanooga, TN.  37421