One of the most common causes of arch pain is plantar fasciitis, a condition that involves inflammation of the fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes (the plantar fascia). Pain from plantar fasciitis can be felt in the arch or the heel, and is most often felt toward the end of the day and after long periods of being stationary (e.g. getting up after sitting for a long time). Commonly, plantar fasciitis is the result of excessive foot pronation (rolling in of the foot) or excessive foot supination (e.g. high arches), both of which can increase tension on the plantar fascia. In these cases, orthotics and well-fitting footwear can address the cause of the problem by improving the position of the feet and relieving tension on the plantar fascia.
Recent research has found a link with changes to the tendon in the foot and an increase in a type of protein called proteolytic enzyme. These enzymes can break down some areas of the tendon, weakening it and causing the foot arch to fall. Similar changes are also seen in other conditions, such as Achilles tendonitis. This could have important implications for treating flat feet because medication that specifically targets these enzymes could provide an alternative to surgery. However, further research is needed and this type of treatment is thought to be about 10 to 15 years away.
People suffering from pain in the arch sometimes complain of burning or soreness on the foot sole, which is worse in the morning and after physical activity. There may also be some tenderness when pressure is applied to the sole of the foot or heel. In addition to this, patients tend to complain of more pain when they stand on tiptoe.
The doctor will take a brief history to determine how the injury occurred. If necessary, a thorough physical exam may be conducted to evaluate for any other injuries. Taking your workout shoes to the exam may also provide valuable information to the medical practitioner. Both feet will be physically and visually examined by the medical practitioner. The foot and arch will be touched and manipulated possibly with a lot of pressure and inspected to identify obvious deformities, tender spots, or any differences in the bones of the foot and arch.
Non Surgical Treatment
The most effective treatment for foot arch pain and strain is to use an arch support. The arch support sits under the foot and stops the arch of the foot from collapsing, thereby preventing the stretch of the arch pad which causes pain and discomfort. Wearing an arch support in slippers or house shoes can also prevent pain in the mornings when discomfort it most common and severe. Arch supports usually relieve symptoms within a few days.
In adults, the most common cause of collapse is due to the posterior tibial tendon tear. In such cases, the tendon must be repaired and a second tendon may be added to the posterior tibial tendon for strength and added support. If the foot is found to be very flat, bone realignment procedures or possible bone fusion procedures may be used to realign the foot. If the calf or Achilles tendon are found to be tight, they may be lengthened to allow better motion at the ankle and less arch strain. The forefoot may also be in a poor position and stabilization of the arch may be necessary to increase forefoot contact to the ground.
The best way to prevent plantar fasciitis is to wear shoes that are well made and fit your feet. This is especially important when you exercise, walk a lot, or stand for a long time on hard surfaces. Get new athletic shoes before your old shoes stop supporting and cushioning your feet. You should also avoid repeated jarring to the heel. Maintain a healthy weight. Stretch when you feel a tightening of the ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot. Stop impact sports when symptoms first occur.