Plantar Fasciitis and Type 2 Diabetes: Is There a Link?

As an individual who has lived with plantar fasciitis, I can honestly say, “I feel your pain.”  I consulted with a chiropractor, a podiatrist, and an orthopedic surgeon. I had custom and store-bought inserts for my shoes, cortisone injections, laser therapy, and physical therapy. I taped my feet daily to help with the pain. I also purchased a multitude of footwear that touted relief from foot pain. The pain was affecting my quality of life so much, I was ready to pull the trigger and schedule surgery. I am glad I reached out and sought help from a naturopathic physician, who looked at my particular battle with PF through a different lens. A lens that goes beyond the structure of the foot, but the body as a whole.


What is Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis (PF) is a common cause of heel pain that is found more often affecting people in their 40’s and 50’s. The pain is at the point in the heel where a ligament attaches at the heel and travels through the arch to the front of your foot. It can be excruciating when you take that first step out of bed or when you get up from your office chair. However, pain does not stop there—it can continue from mild discomfort during your workday—to pain that can change your way of living. There is no single cause of PF, but many factors are associated with PF including Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), obesity, working long hours on your feet, running, advancing age, and sedentary lifestyle.  Since T2D makes the least logical sense on the above list of causes, let’s focus on T2D and see how it could be related to PF.


Type 2 Diabetes/Pre-diabetes and Plantar Fasciitis

Numerous studies show a connection between PF and T2D. One study, in particular, showed that high blood sugar levels found in diabetics cause oxidative stress, which increases inflammation.  People struggling with T2D or pre-diabetes are often obese. Silent inflammation is known to be a common factor associated with obesity.


Detecting Silent Inflammation

Our blood has a marker in it called C-reactive Protein (CRP). By testing for this marker, you can measure the level of your CRP, which indicates how much inflammation is in your body. Inflammation left unchecked can travel and settle in many areas of the body, including the joints, liver, cardiovascular system, gums, brain, and feet.

A recent study of 400 people divided into two groups of 200 each—with one group being those with pre-diabetes—and the other being those in the control group without the presence of prediabetes. This particular study found that the CRP was higher in the prediabetic people than the group that did not have prediabetes.  Since increased CRP is an indicator of inflammation, this indicates that inflammation is present in individuals with pre-diabetes.

In another 5-year cohort study consisting of over 500,000 patients showed that PF was “substantially higher” in the patients with T2D when compared to the control group, without the presence of T2D. Individuals who were overweight showed a much higher incidence of PF.


Reducing Inflammation is Vital

If you have not suffered an injury to the affected foot, then silent inflammation could be to blame. Unchecked silent inflammation leaves the door open for other disease to enter and thrive as the system overall is stretched to its limits. You see, your immune system is what starts the process of inflammation, which is necessary for healing.  But, if you have inflammation in so many areas of your body, your immune system can’t keep up and becomes ineffective at fighting all the battles. At this point, when exhausted, your immune system will adjust to fight the most critical battles, leaving other body parts unprotected.


Natural Treatment of Silent Inflammation

An anti-inflammatory diet can reset your body regarding systemic inflammation and T2D, ultimately relieving the pain from PF.  Ruling out or reducing systemic inflammation as the cause of the pain may help with other non-invasive treatments that could be successful without surgery.

Our Standard American Diet consists of many pro-inflammatory foods:

  • Processed foods like cereal, crackers, and bread
  • Dairy to include milk and cheese
  • Sugar and high fructose corn syrup
  • Refined oils high in omega 6
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Excess animal protein and processed meat

A wholesome anti-inflammatory diet will remove the above foods from the diet for about 30 days, as well as other foods that are pro-inflammatory for some people like eggs and beans. After the 30 days, some food groups are added back in to see how your body responds. Once your body is reset, by adding just one food at a time, you can see if you are having a negative reaction to a specific food or food group.

Anti-inflammatory diets have been around for decades and there are countless forms of anti-inflammatory diets. With volumes of contradictory information on the web and in books, seeking advice from, a certified nutritionist who specialized in T2D and inflammation is beneficial.


The Takeaway

In the absence of injury to the affected area, testing your CRP level is prudent. If CRP is elevated, then systemic inflammation is present. Try an anti-inflammatory diet before scheduling elective surgery. Furthermore, reducing inflammation may also help other traditional treatments succeed and you are on your way to a pain-free life.

Additionally, have your physician check your blood glucose through a simple A1c test, which indicates the presence of pre-diabetes, or T2D. An anti-inflammatory diet is part of an effective treatment plan for both T2D and systemic inflammation.

If any of this sounds familiar and you would like to discuss in more detail, Better Me at 5280 offers a one-time—complimentary 30-minute session—for anyone who would like to know more about the above topic or any other condition that is important to them.  If you are just curious in general and want to have a chat, feel free to schedule your complimentary visit.