When Dr. Robyn Hughes decided to focus her naturopathic practice on helping patients with foot problems, friends often suggested that her specialization sounded “pretty niche.” What Hughes learned over her years of training and practice, however, is that foot pain — and especially heel pain — is an extremely common problem.
Millions of people, Hughes says, experience foot issues that limit their activities, but many do their best to simply ignore the discomfort. “I guess people don’t talk about it. Either they think it’s not interesting, or it’s just normal to have foot pain,” she says.
Other area practitioners say there’s plenty of business to go around when it comes to treating common foot ailments. And they agree on the No. 1 type of problem that motivates patients to seek relief: pain at the base of the heel that’s most intense upon getting out of bed in the morning or standing and walking after a period of inactivity.
But there the agreement ends. Conventional and alternative practitioners alike debate whether the common disorder should be known as plantar fasciitis — indicating an inflammation of the tissues — or plantar fasciosis — a name that points to insufficient blood supply and resulting tissue deterioration. Beyond the choice of the most appropriate term, opinions about the cause and treatment of the condition differ significantly as well.