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Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Posted by Larry W. on 5/28/04 at 00:25 (151442)

I had PF so bad that I quit running in March. After trying many of the prescribed stretches and other things that didn't work, I concluded that PF was psychosomatic. I found some others, such as Dr. Sarno, who agreed. Last weekend, I sat down, found the mental hangup, and the PF pain immediately went away. It hasn't returned. I started back running this week. My feet are fine.

There are three levels to any problem: Physical, Soulish (Psychological), and Spiritual. PF is psychological. Therefore, all the discussion about treating the foot is rot. The real problem is mental and Spiritual. I have an explanation of how to deal with psychosomatic problems on my website. I realize the Spiritual explanation of mine is not geared to this audience, but it should be easy enough to glean the basics, which will cure the PF. There should be no need for psychotherapy because PF is bad enough that it indicates a very obvious mental hangup.


Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Susan S on 5/28/04 at 07:44 (151455)

Thanks for the chuckle.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Steve C. on 5/28/04 at 08:10 (151459)

You're right, thanks. I just visited your site and PF went away immediately. Also cured my ingrown toenails and male pattern baldness.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Jamie on 5/28/04 at 10:34 (151466)



Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

john h on 5/28/04 at 10:56 (151468)

Sort of like the phantom pain many experience when a limb is amputated. It may be psychosomatic but the limb is still gone. I do recognize there is pain and real pain that is caused by the mind. Not only pain but real life threating problems.I personally do not think PF is a psychomatic pain although many of us have posted our emotions can play a role in just how bad our feet or back hurts.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

AndrueC on 5/28/04 at 10:57 (151469)

Huh? Feet can have male pattern baldness? Nah. You'll be telling me PF is psychosomatic next :)

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Julie on 5/28/04 at 11:41 (151475)

All disease is 'psychosomatic' in the sense that all disease arises within, and impacts upon, a whole person: psyche (mind) and soma (body). Those who overemphasise the role of the psyche in disease and dismiss the physical aspects are as misguided as as those who overemphasise the role of the body and dismiss the psychological aspects. Both acknowledge only a part of the whole picture.

This is a simplification of the issue. But it's helpful to acknowledge the role of the psyche even in diseases that may appear to be purely physical. It's also helpful to understand that 'psychosomatic' doesn't mean 'all in the mind', and that it isn't an insult (unless, of course, it's delivered pejoratively, which it often is).

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

scott r on 5/28/04 at 12:31 (151482)

generally i do not like posts that try to claim 'it's all in your head' since it's basically a personal attack on the patient. in the past, i haven't been nice to such posts. However, religious zealots have a lot of mental problems so i don't like to beat up on them in public. Besides, larry w's comments on his website are so profound, true, spiritually entertaining, and stupid, all at the same time, that i encourage others to take a gander to inspect how their souls may be affecting their soles. I give his web site an A+ rating for those under 13 with adult supervision to make sure the child does not leave reality. Preferably, marijuana should be smoked first before reading it.....or just wait till you're 65 or in graduate psychology school to be able to relate to it. Yes, i'm saying those under 13, over 65, in psych grad school, religious zealots, and pot-heads all have something in common. Luckily, they aren't offended by me saying this because only the rest of us know what i'm talking about, unless you're paranoid schizophrenic.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

scott r on 5/28/04 at 12:41 (151486)

ok, that was my attempt at humor. now for my serious post: yes larry, all pain is in our heads. all reality as we know it is in our heads. even the concept of a head is in our head. that's why we think heads are the most complicated things in the world when it's really just circular logic based on and circular observation. besides, God is just a intuitive metaphor for everything we do not know or understand, or have repressed, so you can prove or derive anything starting with vague talk about 'God'.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Renee S on 5/28/04 at 15:30 (151501)

Larry W. you have the right to think that your PF was in your head but please notice that this web site does not go to other web site to 'diss' them about the treatments they use. If you think PF is all in your head and that you cured yours, good for you. If you don't like this web site, just don't visit it. The people that visit this web site are looking for help and advise, not someone that is telling them it's all in there heads. You've said what you had to say, please stop preaching us.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Rick B on 5/28/04 at 19:28 (151510)

Larry, I could not agree with you more. I tried to share my experience with people at this forum, but was run out of town by unaccepting comments. I have been casually following this forum for months to see if anyone may have taken my advice.

I had a bad back for 20 years after an initial injury handling a very heavy bathtub. It continued to get worse each year although I tried all the treatments, exercise etc. I had given up all sports and home remodeling, my hobby and significant passion in life.

I feel to this day that I got very lucky when I saw Dr. Weil on Larry King. He talked about the book, with nothing to loose, ordered it, and it changed my life. I have no back pain and am convinced that there is no damage and that I never really hurt it.

I had followed this forum because I developed arch pain a few years ago. I still get a lot of tension in my feet as I still carry a lot of repressed anger as result of a very difficult childhood. The good news is that my arch pain is gone and I can do anything physical with out any concern of injury.

It is a shame that people take this concept personally. I know it is difficult to accept, but I believe it is the main cause of chronic pain.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Mark S on 5/28/04 at 19:30 (151511)

Me too.

Plus it took ten strokes off my golf game, and got the chick weed out of my lawn. Oh, I think I'm taller too.

Re: to Rick B: Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Dorothy on 5/28/04 at 20:11 (151513)

Rick B: I recall your posts and I also recall responding to them - because I have read Dr. Sarno's books (quite a while back with another review when you wrote) and I learned a lot from his ideas. I appreciate reading of your experiences (then and now today), but are you sure that what you are describing is the same thing that Larry W is describing?? I don't see them as being the same myself. Am I missing something in his or your posts??
I also think it is a complete misunderstanding and mischaracterization for anyone - especially those who are not familiar with Dr. Sarno's work -to relate it to an 'it's all in your head' concept. That's not really what he is saying. He does write about one's emotional/mental - maybe in a way, even spiritual - state and the affect they have on the body, specifically blood supply and pain. He cites the specific physioligic changes in question. I don't mean that you have the 'all in the head' things, Rick B.; you seemed to be saying something different from that. An open mind is a good thing and may even lead to better health.
However, I did not get the same idea from Larry W's post as those Dr. Sarno proposes and that you found enlightening. What do you think??

Re: to Rick B: Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Rick B on 5/29/04 at 00:31 (151519)

I am not an expert in psychological or spiritial problems. In fact, I am still trying to figure out why I carry so much stress. I do know that after reading Dr. Sarno's books and following his advice, my back and arch pain went away. I believe he is correct, and that most of the people on this forum could be free from pain if they took his book seriously.

I do not think people at this forum are head cases. I think they have similiar personalities to mine (well described by Dr. Sarno). I also believe that almost everyone suffers from some amount of illness and pain that is created by the subconscious mind. Most people are not aware of it.

I encourage you to think about every time you were sick or in pain to see if there is some connection to troubled times or events in your life. I found an incredible path as I looked back. I remember that you were about the only open minded person that responded to my post. Give it your best shot. Totally submit to Dr. Sarno's theory. I am joking a little, but assume you are really a head case, it will make it easier to evaluate your past.

Anyway, Larry has his thoughts, I have mine. What we have in common is the absolute belief that most chronic pain is not caused by physical injury. As you well know, most of these folks are not getting relief from pain. I have been there and can relate. This absolutely can work for you. In fact, my hope was that one of the regular (and trusted) members would experience freedom from pain, and then share it with others. I don't expect that most people would trust a stranger (me). Hope I have helped, good luck.

Re: to Rick B: Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Dorothy on 5/29/04 at 01:53 (151521)

Rick B ~ Thanks for your thoughtful response. I, too, am trying to, as you say, 'figure out why I am carrying so much stress' as I have been having problems with hives and am thinking it might have to do with elevated cortisol and, therefore, (bad) stress. I recently finished a round of corticosteroids and generally felt happy and at ease on them (except for really being worried and scared about THEM!) - and have been off them now for a day or so and have begun to feel not so good. So - I thought I would take some DHEA for a while - supposed to be helpful for these issues, including the kind of cortisol-stress issues. I'm a little concerned about taking this, but kind of feel like the body is beginning to 'swirl out of control' in various ways. I've been reading about DHEA on a variety of places but one of them is Life Extension - I do not know if they are considered a 'high-class outfit' or not, but I've found their material very interesting. I am going on at length about this to tell you about a little segment of a little start of a process that you might want to consider. Do you get plenty of sleep?? Also cortisol/stress related.

Re: to Rick B: Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

john h on 5/29/04 at 10:36 (151531)

Dorothy: Could it be comming of the corticosteroids may be causing this reaction?

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

john h on 5/29/04 at 10:44 (151533)

Scott: I was once under 13, now over 65. once wore a pot on my head to a party and do not know if there is a God but play by his/her rules just in case. I guess i can vist this website. Anyones reality is what we perceive it to be.

Re: to Rick B: Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Dorothy on 5/29/04 at 10:57 (151539)

Yes, it could be from what I read and that's one reason that I thought the DHEA might help. Did you - or anyone else here - ever try DHEA??

I'm not going to start up my own little hive-obsessed discussion again, but they are back - just in different places. Not on the face again so far, eyes are ok so far as are throat, etc; but on collarbone area and spreading and on trunk and spreading. I'm getting pretty daggone down to tell the truth about the wide variety of afflictions that seem to be visiting this vessel of mine - and to think I haven't even begun to fully explore the wide range of possible afflictions! Yes, I'm feeling sorry for myself and yes, I'm looking and trying and thinking and reading for every possible way to feel/think/emote/heal better. So far I just want to spend a week or two or three crying hard.

One last thing: I never liked or listened to the Art Bell late-night radio program; in fact, I was known to mock it around my household members who always enjoyed citing the latest 'crazy' Art Bell program. However, since Art Bell has been mostly gone and his replacement, George Noury (sp) has been on, the program has had more interesting topics/guests. So recently in a late-night inability to sleep time, I listened to the program when the guest was a Louis Gonzales. This man has been a long-term writer for National Geographic and many other mainstream publications. He has been studying/thinking about people who survive various situations and he has written a book called Deep Survival on this topic. This is a topic I have often thought about/pondered - why this person survives something or other and the one next to him/her caves/is overwhelmed. The interview was quite interesting and I hope to read the book. I mention it here because I think it might have relevance to those of us here - some who get better/well, some who don't, some who really struggle - so there's a new book reference for anyone who is interested.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

scott r on 5/29/04 at 12:11 (151546)

yeah, i threw in the 65 bit just for you ;)....and my mother whew

Re: Urticaria (Hives) is also Psychosomatic

Larry W. on 5/29/04 at 12:45 (151549)

Urticaria (hives) is psychosomatic. The skin represents intimacy. If a person has both plantar fasciitis and hives, both problems are probably due to the same cause.

Here are some quotes from 'Psychosomatic Disorders', Benjamin B. Wolman, 1988, pp. 151-152: 'Some researchers have related urticaria to suppressed weeping.' Ref. Alexander (1950), 'The fact that in many urticaria patients who inhibit weeping, the urticarial attacks are often terminated by weeping indicates an intimate relationship between weeping and urticaria.' Shoemaker (1963), in his study of patients with hives found that before the outbreak of hives patients had suffered 'a breakdown of various activities that, before the hives, had served as defenses. There was also quite a consitent story of parental rejection. Physical violence had played a significant role in the psychodynamics of chronic urticaria. Anxiety was always present, and hostility appeared as an important factor...the patients appeared to be caught between abject dependency and destructive rage.' Graham, Graham, and Kabler (1962), 'individuals who develop urticaria feel that they are mistreated and are unable to defend themselves. The feeling of helplessness and unfair treatment leads to the development of hives.'

Re: Urticaria (Hives) is also Psychosomatic

Dorothy on 5/29/04 at 13:01 (151551)

Larry W - Thank you for this. You have my attention. I am going to go back and re-read your earlier post. I think I may have pre-judged/misjudged. This is a most interesting and arresting post here and I am a little bit stunned by it - the way that it cut to the heart of the matter. Thank you again.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Joel T on 6/16/04 at 23:26 (153228)

Folks on this forum are misunderstanding the word psychosomatic. It does not mean that the pain is 'in your head'. That would be a very insulting thing to say to someone who is in tremendous pain. Rather, it refers to very real (and often excrutiatingly painful) physical symptoms that ultimately have an psychological/emotional cause.

I suffered from chronic, often debilitating back pain for almost eleven years. After reading about Dr. Sarno's book 'Healing Back Pain' on Andrew Weil's website (www.drweil.com), I bought the book. As soon as I realized that the source of my back pain was repressed anger (rage) which was causing a depletion of oxygen in the affected muscles/tendons, the pain disappeared. Dr. Sarno claims that this is a sort defense mechanism, initiated by the mind, to divert our attention away from unpleasant emotional or psychological feelings. Dr. Sarno's main point is that information is the cure. Once you understanding how and why the pain originates (his name for it is tension myocitis syndrome), the pain will disappear.

About four months ago, I developed a very painful case of plantar fasciitis. For the first three months, I thought it was a structural problem and followed the advice of my podiatrist, who did a series of painful and totally useless injections. About three months into it, I remembered reading in Sarno's book that there were other forms of TMS that did not manifest in the back and when I checked his book, I found PF mentioned. Realizing that this is the true source of my pain, not a structural (read arch) problem, I've been focussing on the MindBody aspect of this, reading Sarno's second book 'The MindBody Prescription'.

My heel pain is starting to dissipate - as soon as I started thinking in a very serious way about the causes of stress, anger and tension in my life! I can now walk around the house barefoot and can walk for significantly longer distances in my shoes. I'm not pain free yet, but sometimes it takes a bit of intellectual work to sort out the issues in life. I am certain, based on my experience with back pain, that this is another manifestation of TMS.

Here's the bottom line. Sarno's books cost less than $15. They are not about spirituality (not sure where Larry got that idea from, but it's not present in any of Sarno's work that I've seen). Buy the book. Read it. See if your personality is on every page like mine was! What the heck - you have nothing to lose - what's worse than the pain of PF and who on this forum wouldn't shell out 15 dollars to put an end to it. I'm only sorry that I didn't realize that my PF was actually another flare up of TMS. I would recommend reading 'Healing Back Pain' first (substitute PF for back pain when you're reading it) and then follow up with 'The MindBody Prescription' paying close attention to the psychology behind MindBody disorders.

Good luck folks, don't let someone else do your thinking for you! Read the book, and judge for yourself.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

john h on 6/17/04 at 09:01 (153242)

Joel I read Dr. Sarno's book some years ago. It made some sense but one has to be a true believer (I think) for it to work. I am a natural born skeptic and usually want to see some science for me to accept it. Clearly I understand there is a strong mind/body connection but many of us can not make the jump from what Dr. Sarno writes to put it into practice.

I shall reread his book. It is short, Inexpensive. One cannot go wrong reading his book. Seems the soft cover copy is less than $15 and one can usually find it at Barnes & Nobel or just order it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. It is always encouraging to find people who have found a cure from things such as Dr. Sarno's writing. I also watch Dr. Weil when I find him on TV. My wife buys all his books. He does have the capacity to pump you up.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Dorothy on 6/17/04 at 09:53 (153259)

John H. - With all due respect, I think you mischaracterize Dr. Sarno's work when you say things like 'true believer' or 'want to see some science'. He is not doing a 'laying on of hands..' or something 'non-scientific'. His work IS based on science and on the physiological (measurable, observable) affects of 'mind' on body - and, one thing I think I recall from long-ago reading, the affect of the fear of experienced pain causing affects in the body that bring pain: a kind of a fear-pain loop. I am always interested in what you have to say about anything, but I am very eager to read what you have to say about Dr. Sarno's work after you have explored it some more. I am going to get the video (thanks again for that great link!)when there's an opening in the budget for one more 'health product' purchase!! Sometimes one learns better from an audiovisual than from reading so I am going to give that mode a try. I hope you will share your impressions of the materials you are getting when you are ready. Best wishes, John -

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

john h on 6/17/04 at 10:17 (153267)

Dorothy: I do not discount Dr. Sarno's work. I do think it requires a certain amount of belief in what he is saying. Just as the mind can cause pain it can also reject the ideas Dr. Sarno puts forth. I did read his book some years ago and every year we have another discussion about it as someone new brings it up. I do look forward to seeing his actual lectures. I do not know what percentage of pain people experience is caused from some sort of actual physical abnormality such as a broken bone or from a mind body connection. One has to be convinced I would think that his thesis actually applies to ones self. Most of us like Wendy want to put a name to what ever is causing our pain and we are not quick to accept the pain as a mind body problem even though it well may be in many cases. When one has sciatic pain down the leg he may reason it is caused by a disc pressing on a nerve exiting the spine. He also may reason that his mind body is causing the muscles in the back to tighten causing the disc to press on the nerve and thus resulting in leg pain. One may further reason the disc has ruptured and disc material is pressing on the sciatic nerve and it has nothing to do with tight muscles. Most of us would like to think the latter as we do not like the thought of not being in control. (My hypothesis). I am open to reason so will revist Dr Sarno.

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

john h on 6/17/04 at 10:47 (153279)

More feedback on Dr. Sarno:

http://www.kimakoi.com/tms/testimonials.htm#From%20Scott%20B .

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

john h on 6/17/04 at 11:09 (153282)

More feedback on Dr. Sarno:

http://www.kimakoi.com/tms/testimonials.htm#From%20Scott%20B .

Re: Plantar Fasciitis is Psychosomatic

Joel T on 6/17/04 at 20:59 (153344)


Sarno is very clear that one must fully accept the TMS theory for it to be effective. But that is entirely consistent with his theory in the first place. If the pain is actually caused by the brain cutting off oxygen to the affected muscles as an unconscious defense mechanism to divert the mind from unpleasant, repressed emotions, and the cure is knowledge of this process and an understanding of the emotions being repressed, it follows that if there is enough doubt or skepticism, the mind will just continue focusing on the physical symptoms and not the underlying emotions. TMS is darn good at its job!

It's very important to make a distinction here between hard and soft science. Emotions, anger, rage, psychological issues just are not measurable in the same way as antibodies, cholesterol or T-cells. But that's not to say that they cannot be studied as scrupuously as anything one can observe under a microscope. Sarno's theories are based on the observations of thousands of successfully cured patients over the course of several decades. He may not be able to plug his patients into the 'rage-o-meter' to measure their repressed anger, but that does not mean that he cannot apply the scientific method in a thoughtful and careful analysis of his patients and their experience with his treatment. Keep in mind that the word science itself comes from the Latin word scientia, which means knowledge. The bias towards things that can be measured with mechanical devices is relatively new in the scheme of things.

One thing that I did not mention in my earlier post is that I actually spoke to Dr. Sarno on the phone recently. After three months of suffering from PF, it suddenly struck me that this was a manifestation of TMS. Actually, it was a friend who mentioned that my foot pain sounded awfully similar to that back pain I went through for eleven years which was immediatley cleared up when I read the Healing Back Pain book. When I realized it was TMS, I figured that the pain would dissipate rapidly as it did with my back. After a month with no results, I finally decided to call his office to make an appointment, since I live in the New York area where he practises.

Dr. Sarno spoke with me over the phone, listened to my history, and when I said that I was convinced the PF was a manifestation of TMS, he chuckled and said, 'of course it is.' He recommended that I read the chapters on the psychology of mindbody disorders very slowly and very carefully, putting a lot of thought into how my own situation fit into these ideas. It was only when I took his advice and started thinking about this stuff very seriously for an hour or so a day that the foot pain began to go away. It's not entirely gone yet, but I'm also at a very different stage of my life than I was a decade ago (demanding job, nine month old baby who doesn't sleep through the night, etc.).

Dr. Sarno made it clear that I should spend more time working through these issues before shelling out any more money, either to see him, attend his lectures or get referred to a psychotherapist. I found that rather refreshing - too often so called 'healers' insist that you need to pay exorbitant fees for workshops, videos, private sessions and commemorative T-shirts. His attitude was more like, 'you know what the problem is, focus on these issues and call me back if you continue to be in pain. He indicated that there's no timeline for this kind of thing, but I'm thinking that a month or two should be sufficient if I'm going to be able to conquer this on my own.

For myself, I wasn't terribly skeptical in the first place. I am a very big fan of Andrew Weil's work and he essentially said on his website that all back pain should be considered TMS until proven otherwise. So I guess I kind of read Sarno's book with a bias that it was going to work because he came so highly recommended by one of the very few doctors who I admire. Secondly, my own experience was entirely consistent with Sarno's writings, for instance, my personality and the pattern of the pain. It all struck me as profoundly true. And of course being cured by reading the book pretty much sealed the deal.

I hope you and the other members of this list have a similar experience. I think the key is patience, particularly if one doesn't have the 'eureka' experience I (and many other Sarno patients) had with my back pain.