8 August, 2017 Physician Vivian Lee

Managing Heel Pain with TCM

Pain at different areas of your heel may mean different things.

If the pain is on the bottom of your heel, it is likely to be Plantar Fasciitis.


If the pain is at the back of your heel, it is likely to be Achilles Tendinitis.


In short, the pain is due to inflammation of either ligament or tendon of your foot. Heel pain is a common foot condition and can affect anyone in all age groups. It can develop suddenly or gradually over time, and can affect only one or both feet.


  • Repetitive stress on heel (running, walking, standing or jumping excessively)
  • Wearing old or poorly fitted shoes
  • Overweight (increased pressure on heel)
  • Wearing high heels for prolonged period


  • In addition to pain, you may experience swelling and redness on affected areas
  • Pain is more severe in the morning when you take the first step off bed, or when you stand up after resting for a while
  • Difficulty in walking or restrictions in certain motions


Overtime without proper care and concern, a heel spur (calcium deposit) might develop on the underside of the heel bone. You may experience trouble walking or exercising as your tendon or heel bone becomes deformed. When conservative treatments fail, surgery might be needed.


A very large heel bone can form a spur-shaped protuberance,
which can be extremely painful

TCM View on Heel Pain

Stagnation of ‘Qi’ and Blood in certain channels (blockage)

This is the more common cause of heel pain, due to inappropriate movements causing repetitive stress and trauma to the heel. Over time, it causes stagnation of ‘Qi’ and Blood to channels in that area, causing pain (不通则痛). Exposure to excessive wind, cold and damp are also possible causes leading to stagnation of Qi and Blood in channels causing heel pain.

Kidney Weakness

In TCM theory, kidney dominates the bones and lower back, and kidney channel flows to the heel, covering most of the sole of our feet. When your kidney is weak, your heel is likely to be lacking in support and nourishment from kidney channels. You are thus, more prone to injury, wear and tear, and pain. This is most likely to affect people of an older age group with more symptoms such as lower back pain, easily tired and frequent urination at night.


  • Consultation: The physician will check your pulse, look at your tongue, identify signs and symptoms and give a diagnosis with TCM principles.
  • Acupuncture: Studies that were done found that acupuncture stimulates our body’s natural painkillers and relieve pain. It aids in the release of blocked channels (improving Qi and Blood stagnation).
  • Medication: It will be given based on the diagnosis of the physician to improve your foot and overall condition.

Article by Physician Vivian Lee


Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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About the Author

Physician Vivian Lee Physician Vivian Lee is a registered TCM Practitioner in PULSE. In 2015, she graduated with a Double Degree with First-Class Honours in B.Sc. in Biomedical Science and Bachelor’s Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Nanyang Technological University and Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.

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