The arch is an extremely hard-working part of your foot. This area, which extends from the heel to the ball of your foot, helps to absorb shock while you are walking. It also bears much of your overall body weight and gives you the balance and stability you need to traverse uneven terrain.
Unfortunately, this complex arrangement of bones, tendons and ligaments is a common source of pain for many people. Several factors contribute to foot arch pain including frequent exercise, old age, and physical stress such as overworking. Weight gain and obesity can also place added pressure on the foot arches which may eventually manifest itself as pain.
Several naturally occurring foot conditions can also contribute to foot arch pain. Flat feet, which affect 8% of American adults, can cause arch pain, as may high arches which affect as many as one in five people.
Foot arch pain is an especially common side effect of four medical conditions:
“Pronation” simply describes the natural movement of the foot during physical activity. Overpronation occurs when a person predominantly pushes from their outer two toes while they are walking or running. This movement prevents the shock of impact from spreading evenly throughout the foot.
Doctors do not yet know the root cause of overpronation. It may result when the patient is compensating for natural anatomical shortcomings. But, ill-fitting shoes may also contribute to overpronation. In the latter case a new pair of shoes may be all the doctor orders!
In addition to arch pain, overpronation may manifest itself as knee pain and shin splints. As many as 60% of runners exhibit overpronation, yet the condition is not exclusive to athletes. It is also common to those who suffer from leg length inequality and a varus deformity of the forefoot.
Plantar fasciitis is a disorder of the tissue which connects the heel to the toes. No one knows the precise cause yet, although doctors have tied risk factors, including extended periods of standing, inflammation, overexertion and obesity, to plantar fasciitis. It is not unusual in runners.
Plantar fasciitis often manifests itself as pain in the heel and arch, as well as accompanying stiffness. Those suffering from the condition often notice the pain as soon as they wake up, and experience it getting worse over the course of the day.
The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that one in ten people will suffer from plantar fasciitis during their lifetime. As such it is one of the most commonly reported orthopedic complaints for which several treatments are available.
High foot arches are neither uncommon nor necessarily painful. Cavus foot (which is also known as pes cavus), is an extreme form of high arches that results when the plantar ligament remains fixed in a flexed position. While cavus foot is often hereditary and natural, it may also be a symptom of conditions such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease or Friedreich’s Ataxia.
Highly arched feet may be asymptomatic, although they often cause pain by failing to evenly distribute body weight. This in turn compresses the multiple bones within the foot. In addition to pain, people with cavus foot may experience stress fractures, ankle instability, and even plantar fasciitis which can further exacerbate the problem.
Cavus foot occurs in 10-25% of the population. People with mild cavus foot may only report difficulty finding shoes that fit correctly, while orthopedic inserts are often prescribed to those suffering from an extremely high instep.
Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD)
PTTD occurs when a certain tendon that runs down the back of the leg becomes torn or inflamed. The posterior tibial tendon is crucial to stabilizing and supporting the arch of the foot; when it cannot function correctly, the arch may collapse to create a flat foot.
People who suffer from PTTD often note pain only when they are walking or running. Pain alongside the inside of the arch and the ankle is also not uncommon. The collapse of the foot arch may also force the heel bone to shift outward, which places pressure on the ankle bone. The resulting pain is not unlike that of arthritis.
PTTD is the most common cause of flatfoot acquired by adults, and athletes who recently suffered an ankle sprain are at particularly high risk of the condition. Podiatrists often prescribe supportive shoe inserts for PTTD. However, in extreme cases, they may require total immobilization of the leg.
Visit Our Podiatry Clinic for Relief from Your Foot Arch Pain
Please bear in mind that only a doctor is qualified to diagnose these conditions – as well as prescribe the best treatments for them. If you are suffering from persistent pain in your arch or any other part of your foot, please seek medical help. Your chances of complete recovery only become better the sooner you seek professional medical help. If you live in the greater Twin Cities area, you will find precisely that help at Twin Cities Foot & Ankle Clinic. We hope you will contact us today!