Unfortunately, foot pain is an all too common complaint among Lyme disease patients. Plantar fasciitis is often diagnosed because it’s a frequent cause of heel and arch pain. The dense, fibrous tissues that run along the bottom of your foot, connecting the heel to the base of your toe, become uncomfortable and inflamed. If you suffer from this type of foot pain, you know how difficult–sometimes, downright excruciating–it is to be on your feet. The pain is often most noticeable in the mornings, but frequent periods of standing or sitting can also provoke a flare-up of your symptoms at any time of the day. While there are several reasons for the onset of plantar fasciitis, the following tips can help you manage, and hopefully reduce, the severity of your foot pain.
1. Rule out co-infections.
Initially, it might seem unimportant to mention foot pain to your Lyme-treating physician when there are often a myriad of other issues to treat. However, the co-infection Bartonella can mimic foot pain that is often misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis. It’s essential to tell your doctor about this symptom. Doing so helps him or her to determine which infections to target during treatment. The good news is that foot pain due to Bartonella usually improves with treatment. In the meantime, you can use the tips outlined here to help lessen the intensity of the pain.
2. Consider taking a combination of calcium and magnesium.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia expert, Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, recommends 1,000mg-1500mg of calcium and 200mg of magnesium at bedtime to relieve the irritation and stiffness associated with plantar fasciitis. He states that it can take up to six weeks to begin working, but this combination is usually quite effective at mitigating foot pain. Be sure to discuss the addition of these supplements with your doctor, as calcium and magnesium are known to interfere with the absorption of some medications like prescription thyroid medications and some antibiotics.
3. Ice the bottom of your foot.
Icing is one of the easiest and cheapest modalities to use to lessen foot pain. Simply wrap an ice pack in a cloth or towel. Then, place the pack on the bottom of your foot over the area of pain for 15-20 minutes. Repeat three to four times per day for maximum benefit.
4. Stretch your calves.
Plantar fasciitis can be exacerbated by tight calves or Achilles’ tendons. By incorporating two simple stretches into your day, you improve the flexibility, mobility, and position of your foot.
Lying Down Calve Stretch:
Position: Lying in a comfortable position on your back
Props: Yoga strap, towel or belt
Lie in a comfortable position on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Straighten your right leg toward the ceiling. Place the yoga strap, towel, or belt around the ball of your right foot. While keeping your leg as straight as possible, gently pull on the strap until you feel a stretch in your calf and down the back of your leg. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat the stretch three times, and then proceed to the left leg.
Downward Dog Stretch:
Position: Bearing weight on your hands and feet in an inverted “V.”
Props: Yoga mat or some other non-skid surface
I like to use this particular yoga posture because it stretches both the hamstrings and Achilles' tendons. Place your palms flat on the mat, floor, or some other non-skid surface where you won’t slip. Your palms should be shoulder-width apart on your mat, and your fingers comfortably spread open. Step back with each leg until your body is in the shape of an inverted “V.” Press your feet into the floor, straightening your legs as much as you can–never overdoing the pose. For some people, the heels will reach all the way to the floor. For others, they won’t. The goal is to feel gentle stretching down the back of your legs and into your Achilles' tendons. Reach your tailbone to the sky, and relax your upper back, head and neck in this pose. Hold for ten deep breaths.
Advanced: If you are familiar with this pose, you can bicycle your legs; lifting the right heel, then the left, to deepen the stretch in the calves. Alternate heels for ten deep breaths.
5. Massage the bottom of your foot with a tennis ball.
Position: Either sitting or standing
Props: A tennis ball
You can perform this stretch either seated or standing, depending on what feels best to you. Place a tennis ball on the ground. Put your foot on top of the ball and roll it back forth along the length of your arch. Use enough pressure so that you feel a deep stretch. When you locate areas of soreness, continue slowly massaging those areas until you notice an improvement.
While these tips are helpful to many people, It’s important to remember they can take a few weeks to a few months to yield improvements. If you do not see progress in your pain levels within a reasonable timeframe, please don’t lose hope. There are several options to discuss with your doctor, like physical therapy sessions, personalized orthotics, and taping techniques, as well as others, to get you on the path to recovery.
Teitelbaum, J. (2015). Plantar Fasciitis. From Fatigued To Fantastic. Retrieved from
Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio, OTR/L, is an Occupational Therapist and certified Pilates instructor whose life was transformed by Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Interstitial Cystitis. She is creator of the DVD, New Dawn Pilates: pilates-inspired exercises adapted for people with pelvic pain. Jenny is a health and wellness advocate and blogger who writes about her journey on [lymeroad.com] as she continues to pursue her personal healing with the support of her husband and two senior beagles. You can find her on Instagram: [jenny_buttaccio] or Twitter: [lymeroad]