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Heel Pain and spurs

Heel pains and purs treatment potential for acupuncture and herbal medicine in traditional chinese medicine

Heel Pain: Understanding and Managing with a Complementary Approach

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine's) 

Heel pain is a common condition that affects people of all ages and lifestyles. It can be  caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, overuse, and certain medical conditions.


In Western medicine, heel pain is usually diagnosed as plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome. Treatment approaches may include physical therapy, orthotics, medication, and in some cases, surgery. 

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes. This condition is often caused by overuse, such as excessive walking, running, or jumping. Heel spur syndrome is a condition where calcium deposits develop on the bottom of the heel

bone, causing pain and discomfort. This condition is often associated with plantar fasciitis.

Western medical treatment approaches for plantar fasciitis and heel spur syndrome may include stretching and strengthening exercises, custom orthotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and corticosteroid injections. Surgery is usually reserved for cases where conservative treatments have failed.

Complementary approach in Chinese medicine.

In Chinese medicine, heel pain is understood in terms of the channels and organs involved. The TCM-Kidneys govern the bones and are responsible for nourishing the feet. The TCM-Spleen governs the muscles and is responsible for transforming food into Qi and Blood. Therefore, any disharmony or weakness in these organs can lead to heel pain.

According to TCM theory, there are several underlying patterns that can lead to heel pain. These include Qi and Blood stagnation, dampness accumulation, phlegm obstruction, and cold or heat invasion.

Qi and Blood stagnation refers to a lack of circulation in the affected area, leading to pain and discomfort. This can be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine to promote circulation and relieve pain.

Dampness accumulation refers to an excess of fluid in the affected area, leading to a heavy sensation and difficulty moving. This can be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine to promote the flow of fluids and reduce inflammation.

Phlegm obstruction refers to the accumulation of mucus in the affected area, leading to a feeling of fullness and discomfort. This can be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine to clear the phlegm and promote circulation.

Cold or heat invasion refers to external factors that can aggravate the affected area, leading to pain and discomfort. This can be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine to regulate the body's temperature and reduce inflammation.

TuiNa, remedial massage, GuaSha, and Cupping techniques can also be used to manage physical or muscular pain in TCM. These therapies work by applying pressure or suction to specific points on the body to promote circulation and relieve tension.

Complementary approach

A complementary approach to managing heel pain can be very effective, as it combines the strengths of both Western and Chinese medicine. Western medicine can provide immediate relief with medication and physical therapy, while Chinese medicine can address the underlying patterns that lead to heel pain and promote long-term healing. Consultation with a Western doctor is still essential if drugs are mentioned.

In conclusion, heel pain can be effectively managed using a complementary approach that combines Western and Chinese medicine. While Western medicine focuses on treating the symptoms, Chinese medicine addresses the underlying patterns that lead to the condition. By working together, these two approaches can provide a more comprehensive and effective approach to managing heel pain.


  1. American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS). (2022). Heel pain. Retrieved from

  2. Chen, R. X., Jiao, S. Y., & Wang, J. J. (2016). Clinical effect observation of Chinese massage manipulation in the treatment of heel pain. China Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, 31(6), 2486-2488.

  3. Wu, T., Li, Y., Bian, Z., Liu, G., & Li, J. (2010). Traditional Chinese medical therapies for heel pain. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (8), CD007809. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007809.pub2

  4. Xiong, L., & Zhou, S. (2015). TCM treatment for heel pain. Journal of Chinese Medicine, 106-109.

  5. Yu, Y. F., & Su, W. (2016). Treatment of heel pain with Chinese medicine. Chinese Medicine Modern Distance Education of China, 14(8), 118-120.

  6. Zhang, Y. F., & Song, L. W. (2019). Clinical observation of acupuncture combined with cupping therapy in the treatment of heel pain. Chinese Community Doctors, 21(25), 129-130.

The primary objective of Chinese Medicine is to treat the whole person rather than a specific disease or its given name.  It is an adjunct to Western medicine, with a distinct focus on identifying the underlying cause within Chinese medical  theory and using it's principles in a safe and modern clinical setting.

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