Ayurvedic treatment for Heel pain

Heel pain

Know More on Bone Diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Heel pain Ayurvedic treatment

Heel pain is the pain in the posterior end of the foot, especially on the underside. It can occur due to multiple reasons, and the pain generally restricts movements such as walking or running.1

In Ayurveda, the condition described as Vatakantaka (vata - vata dosha; kantaka - thorns) or Padakantaka, involves pain in the heel as a cardinal symptom. Ayurveda categorizes it as a Vatapradhanavyadhi (Disease due to high involvement of vata) and is generally a result of heavy walking or walking on uneven surfaces, excessive strain on heels, standing or walking for long, use of hard foot wears, prolonged pressure over heel or ankle joint etc. factors lead to vitiation of Vata dosha. Aggravated Vata will affect the muscle and joints of heel  and cause severe pain and pricking sensation in the feet, especially the rear portion and its underside (the heel).2

Causes

Heel pain

Heel pain is generally caused due to conditions that affect the heel, its muscles and ligaments. Some common causes that may cause pain in heel are:1

  • A condition called as Plantar fasciitis
  • Any abnormal growth or tumor of bone
  • Inflammation of the covering of bone (Bursitis)
  • Spur formation in the heel
  • Arthritis
  • Osteomyelitis

Symptoms

Heel pain

Pain is the cardinal and striking symptom. Many patients may complain of a burning or pricking sensation along with pain in the underside (soles) of the foot.

Diagnosis

Heel pain

Heel pain is a symptom that is presented as a complaint by the sufferer. Imaging tests (X-ray or CT scans) are used to check for any bone deformities or other underlying problems.

          X-Rays – to confirm heel pain and rule out other causes of the pain

         CT scan – imaging test to look for the source of the heel pain and how severe it is

Management

Heel pain

Treatment of heel pain requires managing the symptoms of the pain and treating its underlying cause.1

Ayurveda recommends a general line of treatment for heel pains. These include2:

  • Snehana (oleation) – administering ghee, herbal oil, animal fat or bone marrow to expel the imbalanced dosha out of the body
  • Swedana (fomentation) – application of hot, moist substances to heal pain

The medicaments which subside Vatadosha are beneficial. Some doctors also perform Agnikarma (cautery)

Ayurvedic oils like Mahanarayana Tail, Vishagarbha Tail, Nirgundi Tail are beneficial as external application.

Additionally, Ayurveda also recommends a combination of healthy diet (ahar) and lifestyle changes (vihar) in order to manage heel pain effectively. These include:2,3

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

Consume diet that reduces vata dosha in the body. This includes easily digestible foods and moist & oily foods.2 Examples are:

  • Oils and ghee
  • Moist foods like berries, melons and curd
  • Soups and stews
  • Oily foods like avocado, coconut, olives, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, milk, wheat, nuts and seeds

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Give adequate rest to the foot
  • Avoid walking for long distances and standing for a long time
  • Regularly perform stretching exercises for feet and calves
  • Immerse the heels in warm water mixed with salt to provide relief
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the affected heel for 5-10 minutes
  • Wear comfortable foot wear at all times to avoid heel related injuries
  • Generally maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting excess pressure or strain on your feet

FAQS

Heel pain
  1. What is Osteoarthritis? How is it caused?

Osteoarthritis refers to a type of bone and joint problem in which a person suffering from it will have pains in joints. This happens due to the wearing down of the protective cartilage on the bones due to age or other factors. While any joint in the body can have osteoarthritis, usually it happens commonly in the joints of knees, hips, spinal column and hands.

Osteoarthritis is caused due to damage of the cartilages of the ends of the bones. This damage generally occurs due to multiple factors primarily being increasing age. Apart for age, the other factors that cause the damage to cartilage are Obesity, female gender and trauma to the joint.

  1. What is Rheumatoid arthritis? How is it different from osteoarthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) refers to an auto immune disorder where the body’s defense systems turn against the body and mainly affect the joints but may also severely affect the eyes, skin, lungs, heart and blood vessels. It generally manifests as pain in the joints along with swelling and difficulty in movements.

Unlike osteoarthritis which affects the weight bearing joints, RA affects any and most joints of the body. It generally presents with swelling (hot swollen joints) as a cardinal feature and also shows some systemic manifestations (such as affects the eyes, skin, lungs, heart etc) unlike OA.

  1. What is osteoporosis? How is it recognized?

Osteoporosis refers to the condition where the bone becomes weak. Instead of the strong tissue that support the body structure, bones become brittle from inside and are capable of breaking with a minor jerk or fall. This leads to fractures in the hands, hips and legs with minor falls or injuries.

It can be recognized based on specific signs and symptoms and a BMD test. Symptoms are as follows -

  • Easily having a bone fracture
  • Pain in the back
  • Height becomes lesser than usual
  • A dropping posture
  1. What first aid should I offer to a person with a fracture?

If you witness a person developing fracture, take these actions immediately -

  • Urgently call for medical help or arrange for an ambulance
  • Stop any bleeding if there is an open wound. This can be done by applying pressure with a clean cloth or tight bandaging.
  • Avoid moving the injured area.
  • Apply ice packs to the injured part
  • If the person faints of is short of breath, put their head at a lower side and legs at a higher angle
  1. How does one know if a child has rickets?

The signs and symptoms of rickets are as follows –

  • Crooked or bow shaped legs
  • Thick joints of hands and feet
  • Protruded chest bone
  • A delay in growth milestones
  • Muscular weakness
  1. How does one have a dislocated joint?

Dislocations are usually caused due to a trauma or as a sports injury. Falls associated with contact sports such as football, basketball etc can lead to a dislocation.

Additionally, a fall on the outstretched hand and trauma due to a motor accident, too can cause dislocation.

  1. What is a Tennis elbow? How is it caused?

Tennis elbow refers to the pain in elbow due to swelling of the tendons which may occur due to repetitive movements of the wrists. Unlike the name suggests, the condition affects non-athletes as well.

It is caused due to overuse of the tendons resulting in a muscle strain injury. Any activity that requires repeated motions of the elbow and wrists can cause tiny injuries in the tendons leading to tennis elbow.

  1. What is frozen shoulder and how is it caused?

Frozen shoulder refers to a condition where the shoulder seems to be frozen in its movements. This condition cause pain and stiffness in the shoulder and restricts any kinds of movements. Medically, this condition in also known as adhesive capsulitis.

While the exact cause of frozen shoulder is not understood, it is believed to be caused due to a swelling of the joints covering called as capsule. This may happen due to long periods of immobility or trauma to the underlying nerve.

  1. How does a hip get fractured?

Generally hip fractures can be caused because of a trauma due to accident, falls, injuries or rarely violence. Hip fracture is very common in the elderly as it often happens due to a fall from height or sometimes even with twisting of the foot in people with weak bones. Younger people often have hip fracture as an outcome of a motor vehicle accident.

  1. What is meant by slipped disc?

A slipped disc refers to the swelling in the cushion between two bones, most commonly the vertebra (individual bones of the spine). This cushion is supposed to provide mobility and flexibility to the spine. This cushion between the vertebra is called as a disc and is filed with a gel like substance that provides the flexibility.

Slipped disc is the swelling of this disc which causes pain and obstructs mobility of the spine. A swelling in the cushion leads to some of the gel in the disc to protrude out between the bones.

References

Heel pain
  1. Mayo clinic. Heel Pain. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/heel-pain/basics/definition/sym-20050788  accessed Sept 20th 2016
  2. Vijayalakshmi S et al. Efficacy of Valuka Sweda with Amlakanji in Vatakantaka: A Case Study. Int. J. Ayur. Pharma Research. 2014;2(7):22-24.
  3. Treating Heel Pain. NHS. Available at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heel-pain/Pages/Treatment.aspx accessed Sept 21st 2016

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