Why Does My Foot Arch Hurt?
Arch pain, also referred to as arch strain, is a common type of foot pain. The pain is the result of inflammation that can cause a burning sensation in the arch of your foot. The condition is usually easily prevented and treated with a few simple measures.
What Causes Foot Arch Pain?
A number of different factors can cause arch pain. Outside of a direct injury, the most common causes are plantar fasciitis or a structural imbalance in the foot.
The plantar fascia is a fibrous band of tissue along the bottom of your foot. The tissue runs all the way from the front of your foot to your heel. If this tissue is overstretched, you can experience pain in your arch or heel. The pain is typically worse in the morning or after prolonged sitting. The pain usually lessens somewhat as the foot becomes more limber with walking. If left untreated, the continued strain on the arch can lead to the formation of heel spurs. Plantar fasciitis is common among runners, people who wear shoes with too little support, and individuals who are overweight.
Flat feet, also referred to as over-pronation, can cause arch pain. Some people are born with flat feet and never experience any problems. More often, the condition occurs when the tendons supporting the arch weaken from excessive wear and tear. Without proper arch support, the entire foot touches the floor. This can cause the plantar fascia to stretch, causing pain. It is estimated that about 20 percent of people have flat feet.
Some less common causes of flat feet include neuromuscular disease, leg-length discrepancy, or inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
People with flat feet may experience frequent lower back pain, an awkward gait, and shin splints.
Another 20 percent of people have overly high arches, referred to as supination. The foot tends to be rigid, and weight is forced onto the ball and heel of the foot. Since the arch is so high, it can absorb very little shock from high-impact activities like running or walking. This causes excessive pressure on the front and back of the foot. This can lead to pain in the heel, ball of the foot, and arches.
As with flat feet, high arches can be hereditary. Less common causes of high arches include congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy, neuromuscular diseases, or nerve trauma.
Individuals with high arches can experience complications including frequent sprains due to ankle instability and stress fractures. Diabetics and other with impaired circulation should be on the look-out for calluses and ulcers that can form on the heel or ball of the foot.
Preventing Foot Arch Pain
In most cases, foot arch pain is easily prevented by the following measures:
- You should avoid high-heeled shoes whenever possible. High-heeled shoes cause your weight to be distributed unevenly. This strain can stretch the plantar fascia and cause pain in the ball of your foot or arches. You can keep your feet happy by choosing shoes with soft leather uppers, reasonable heels, and shock-absorbing heels and insoles.
- Orthotic insoles can help relieve arch pain caused by flat feet. You should look for an orthotic that provides good arch support and a medial heel post.
- Orthotics can also help individuals with high arches. The insert helps fill in the arch cavity. This allows for a more even distribution of weight and impact.
Treating Foot Arch Pain
If the above measures do not relieve your discomfort, your doctor may suggest further treatment including:
- An injection of a steroid combined with a local anesthetic.
- Rest and ice to reduce inflammation.
- Physical therapy to strengthen leg and foot muscles.
- A foot brace to keep the foot in proper alignment.
- Surgery in very rare, severe cases.
People with flat or high arched feet often have a heel cord that is too tight. The following exercise can help stretch the heel cord.
- Stand approximately three feet from a wall. Your feet should be pointed straight ahead.
- Try to lower your hips toward the wall while keeping your heels on the floor.
- Hold the position for about five seconds and repeat several times.
You should always consult a doctor if you have foot pain that persists or worsens despite conservative home remedies.