Sore Feet Best Treated by Heat not Ice says Podiatrist
In my 2009 book Why You Really Hurt: It All Starts In The Foot I explain why I love using heat for the treatment of chronically sore feet and heel problems. Some doctors may disagree with me, and say ice is better, but after being a podiatrist for 37 years and for treating about 25,000 patients during that time, I absolutely believe that heat is the way to go for helping sore, painful, aching feet . Ice is okay right after an injury, like when you twist your ankle. But besides that, heat is the best way to go, for you to mend your own damaged feet.
Why Heat? The most oblivious reason is the wonderful soothing effect heat has. It will just make you feel better. This is for the simple reason that heat will increase the blood flowing into the foot . When more blood is brought into the foot, it will start to remove all of the damaged tissues that has buildup over a period of years. This buildup was due to the constant abuses that your feet were exposed to. Once you start to flush, or push out this stuff, the redness, swelling, soreness, throbbing and aching in your feet and other parts of your body will start to go away.
How It Works: The best way I can explain this is to tell you about the puddle verse the water hose. If you have a large puddle of water that was caused by a heavy rain in front of your house, you might want to get rid of it. So how do you do it? Well, you can take a bucket and with several trips get rid of it that way. Or you can take a broom and sweep it away. Or, you can take your hose and with using the sprayer push more water into puddle making it wash away. That is exactly what you are doing with soaks, heating pads, and paraffin bath (see below). You are washing away, and pushing out, the abnormal buildup of inflammation due to injuries, by adding more circulation to the area. Podiatrists have under stood this concept for years, and often will give a nerve block in the foot in order to increase the circulation. When certain nerves in the foot are numbed or blocked , it has the effect of causing the blood vessels to open up wider, and bring more down blood into the foot. This increase blood flow decreases pain and inflammation by washing away all of the rubbish that has buildup over time, in your foot. Basically this is the same concept as the hose and the puddle. And, that is what you will be doing when you use heat to bring more blood into your feet. Ice is doing the exact opposite by closing down the blood vessels and not letting blood in. People like ice because it is freezing and numbing the area which I feel is the worst thing you can do. Again the aim of the treatment is to bring more blood into the area to wash away the inflammation that is build up.
In my next article I will write about specific things you can do at home to heat your feet.